Meanwhile, just as many predicted that Victor Martinez would walk away with the goodies like a naughty kid upon finding a stash of Easter eggs. Throw in a dash of Dexter Jackson, Toney Freeman and Gustavo Badell and this made a perfect marinate of prize stealers that would cook up one of the best Arnold Classic shows of all time.
1st Place: Victor Martinez
The dangerous Dominican made a big wave when he stood onstage against his competition. The tsunami that he unleashed swept away all of the hungry wolves trying to claw their way into the winners circle. His waist-to-shoulder ratio is unique in itself and when compared to others in his daunting presence, they seem to go as unnoticed as a Rambo 6 at the box office. Only soft beads of light could escape under Victor's massive hanging lats when he stood relaxed but a full eclipse covered the other frames of sinew when he strikes any front poses. When Victor first stomped onstage he didn't make the impact that one had hoped but as the show progressed and he was compared to the other challengers, it was more obvious that his body was getting more comfortable. His condition was on par with his Olympia appearance, but his mass alone was enough to solidify his signature on the $130,000 pay check.
2nd Place: Dexter Jackson
The "Blade" was also holding the same condition as last year so that guaranteed his placement behind Victor. Dexter is a true veteran of bodybuilding and that really showed throughout his flawless posing and during the routine round later that evening when he posed in front of a sellout crowd. Unfortunately we all know what to expect from Jackson, which isn't a whole lot different from show to show. He consistently caries his conditioned proportion perfectly, which proves to be reliable, but he fails to make the generous improvements to exchange places with heavily set guys like Victor.
3rd Place: Toney Freeman
The big "T" did what most thought he wouldn't and that was to place in the top 3 at the Arnold. Toney made it clear that he was chasing down four victories, these being the Ironman, Sacramento Pro (he won both), the Arnold Classic and the Australian G.P. this coming weekend. He came very close to taking this high-caliber show and is making his mark on top 5 Olympia finishers like Gustavo Badell who finished one place behind the 41 year old Freeman. Toney's 6'2" frame is an eye-opener when he is compared to his competition and because of his sheer size, shape and mass he doesn't have to deal with the complications of coming in absolutely shredded to make an impact. Freeman doesn't have any weak poses to complain about but he will have to force more growth onto his skyscraper frame to dominate and promise a four-out-of-four victory in '08.
4th Place: Gustavo Badell
When Gustavo wasn't called out in the first round of comparisons I thought this had spelled trouble and he could quite possibly be placed outside of the top 5. As the show progressed, so did Badell's condition and he managed to sneak by Phil Heath into fourth place. The Puerto Rican was in great shape and his midsection continues to improve. His placement announcement was as well received as Brittany Spears new haircut but Badell needs to continuously improve if he wants to keep up with the evolution of the competition that have tummies rumbling louder for a podium finish.
5th Place: Phil Heath
"The Gift" didn't receive his newly wrapped Hummer and $130,000 like he had hoped and that many anticipated. His condition was good but he wasn't as hard as he was in Denver last year when he won Shawn Ray's Pro Classic and it was this that clearly exposed his chinks in the high-caliber line-up in Columbus. Phil has an awesome future ahead of him if he continues to improve like he did from 2005 to 2006 but at this stage in 2007 he had left little time to surpass people like Dexter who has more size and muscle maturity than Heath. Phil has outstanding leg, shoulder and arms size and symmetry but will have to rely on father time to expand his width and thickness.
6th Place: Silvio Samuel
The Spanish resident had an awesome showing at his Arnold Classic debut. On March 1st, two days before he stood onstage, Samuel signed the dotted line to be knighted as a Weider athlete thus taking some pressure off him mentally and financially. The muscle bellies on Samuel look so full they maybe in need of a tummy tuck soon if they continue to expand before they explode. Samuels' massive legs need just a tad more separation and the fact that he relaxes them a lot during his posing doesn't help matters either but it was enough to have him finish in the money.
2. Dexter Jackson
3. Toney Freeman
4. Gustavo Badell
5. Phil Heath
6. Silvio Samuel
7. Branch Warren
8. Ronny Rockel
9. Markus Ruhl
10. Vince Taylor
11. Mark Dugdale
12. Marcus Haley
13. Hidetada Yamagishi
14. David Henry
15. Sergey Shelestov
16. Luke Wood
LIST OF PREJUDGING CALLOUTS
First callout: Toney Freeman, Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson, Victor Martinez
Second callout: Branch Warren, Ronny Rockel, Gustavo Badell, Silvio Samuel
Third callout: Markus Ruhl, Hidetada Yamagishi, Marcus Haley, Mark Dugdale, Vince Taylor
Fourth callout: Branch Warren, Silvio Samuel, Ronny Rockel, Markus Ruhl
Fifth callout: Hidetada Yamagishi, Sergey Shelestov, David Henry, Luke Wood
Sixth callout: Toney Freeman, Gustavo Badell, Silvio Samuel, Phil Heath
Seventh callout: Phil Heath, Toney Freeman, Dexter Jackson, Victor Martinez, Gustavo Badell
Eighth callout: Silvio Samuel, Ronny Rockel, Markus Ruhl, Branch Warren
Ninth callout: David Henry, Vince Taylor, Mark Dugdale, Marcus Haley
Tenth callout: Dexter Jackson, Gustavo Badell, Victor Martinez
Eleventh callout: Phil Heath, Toney Freeman, Gustavo Badell
Twelfth callout: Toney Freeman, Dexter Jackson, Victor Martinez
Lifetime achievement award went to Cory Everson
The Best Poser Award went to Marcus Haley of Kaged Muscle
The Most Muscular award went to Victor Martinez
Click here to view Womens Arnold Classic Winners