Who’s Ready for the 2018 Arnold Classic?

by Matt Weik

I don’t know about you, but I took a peek at the invitation list for the 30th Anniversary Arnold Classic to be held on March 3, 2018 and my mind is blown. We are looking at what could possibly be the best lineup to date for this particular show. Generally, you can look at the lineup and pretty well bet on who’s going to win the open division. However, this year, it’s truly up in the air. We have guys like Cedric McMillan, William Bonac, Lionel Beyeke, Maxx Charles, Dexter Jackson, Steve Kuclo, Shawn Rhoden, Roelly Winklaar, and Dennis Wolf.

From that list, who do you think will win the 2018 Arnold Classic? I have my predictions of how it will play out, and I’ll share them below.

And the winner is…?

William Bonac. That’s my prediction. After a strong finish at the Olympia, Bonac could walk right in and seal the deal. Assuming he has a productive offseason and comes into the show with his best conditioning, I’m not sure there’s anyone who can touch him if he’s on. But, if Bonac is even a little bit off, that could open up the door for a number of competitors to come in and steal the show.

It’s hard to count out guys like Dexter and Rhoden from coming in and taking home the hardware. Both competitors are fairly consistent with their conditioning and we pretty much know what we’re going to see from them. However, an in shape and diced Winklaar can spoil everyone’s plans and come in and get his first win of 2018.

What about Cedric?

What about him? He’s one of the funniest dudes on stage, but in a stacked lineup he unfortunately disappears. Look what happened to him at the Olympia. I personally think there’s a snowballs chance in hell that he’s going to be the man talking with Arnold again this year when it’s all said and done.

Personally, I think Cedric has one of the best physiques in the game, but the judges are looking for a different criterion these days. I’d like to think I’m wrong and he can retain his title, but in my opinion, I think that’s wishful thinking.

The big bad Wolf returns

I think one of the more exciting things to take place at the 2018 Arnold Classic will be the return of Dennis Wolf. He has always had an amazing physique and is considered dangerous anytime he steps on stage. This year, however, I don’t think will be a strong showing. At least not at the Arnold Classic.

Being that this will be his first show coming back from injury and surgery, I just don’t see him nailing his conditioning and having the muscle density and thickness he had prior to his layoff. I’m a Wolf fan and hope that he can make a strong showing to at least make people want to see more of him in 2018 and potentially step on stage at the Olympia towards the end of the year.

What the hell is he thinking?

There’s one piece of the Arnold Classic open division that I’m scratching my head with. And that is Hidetada Yamagishi skipping the 212 and jumping into a packed open division. No offense, but he simply does not possess the size and detail that the mass freaks today show on stage. I mean, Roelly could eat him backstage as a snack if he gets hungry.

I’m not sure if this is a money play for Hidetada or if he truly believes he belongs in the open – I just don’t know. Maybe there will be more to the story that he will reveal at some point. But, for the time being, I would place him just about dead last in the 14-man lineup.

Are the judges looking for mass or aesthetics?

The biggest question going into the Arnold Classic will be what the judges are looking for. If it’s mass freaks, Bonac, Kuclo, and Winklaar will place extremely well. If they are looking more for aesthetics and detail with less focus on overall mass, guys like Dexter, Rhoden, and maybe even Cedric could be front and center.

Yet, regardless of what they are looking for this year, it’s hard to count out Dexter. It seems like he doesn’t get the respect he deserves going into shows, yet he is always in the running to win every show he enters. It’s for good reason that he’s the winningest competitor – he’s consistent.

Regardless of who places where, I think we are all in for a treat this year. The 2018 Arnold Classic could go down in history as the best Arnold Classic ever. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet and booked a hotel, you better do it soon. Because with a lineup this strong, those seats are going to fill up very quickly.