Questions Still Swirl Hours Before Arnold UK

arnold 3With less than 12 hours to go before the start of, what looks to be, the most highly anticipated Arnold UK in history, there are still several major question marks swirling around some of the biggest names in the lineup, including reigning Arnold Classic champion, Hadi Choopan.

Hadi’s decision not to fly out until late in the week for his Round 2 matchup against prohibitive number one contender, Samson Dauda, raised it’s fair share of questions. As many bodybuilding fans are well aware, Hadi has been plagued with issues surrounding his travel visa throughout his career and, for a brief moment, did appear to be some concern that those visa issue had once again reared their ugly head. However, he and his team were able to catch a last minute flight across the Atlantic but, given the strain that comes with international travel, there’s still no guarantee that he will be able to replicate the career best performance that he delivered to win his Arnold Classic title two weeks ago; which could potentially open up the door for Samson, a UK native, to regain some momentum with a much needed win, and potentially reestablish himself as the preeminent contender to challenge Derek Lunsford for his Olympia crown later this year.

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However, despite being able to train in the comfort of his own home for the last two weeks, even if a slightly diminished Hadi is able to take the stage this weekend, being able to legitimately contend for the win is still far from a certainty for Samson. He notably parted ways with long-time coach Milos Sarcev after his 2nd place finish at the Arnold Classic and, by all accounts, has taken the reigns on his own contest prep in the interim. According to the latest reports from sources close to Samson’s camp, he’s planning to come into the weekend 5-10 pounds lighter onstage than he was in Columbus, which has caused many to question whether his late push for better conditioning will result in him losing some of the “pop” and “fullness” that he often has when he’s at his best.


Additionally, in the immediate aftermath of the Arnold Classic there were reports that Samson could potentially pull out of the Arnold UK due to “failing health”, which has been an issue that we’ve seen plague several bodybuilders recently as they’ve dealt with the rigors of intense travel and a seemingly never-ending cycle of contest prep with short turnaround times between shows. Although the health concerns appear to be a non-issue now, there’s still a reasonable chance that he may not have been able to train at his usual level of intensity, which could also limit his ability to be at his best this weekend.

If both Hadi and Samson slightly miss the mark, it presents a tremendous opportunity for another athlete to step up and take advantage of, what could be, the biggest win of their career. By all accounts, Jon Delarosa seems to be the next in line if the dominos start to fall.

Jon’s reemergence at the Arnold Classic was some what of a revelation and, according to most of the post-show commentary, the general consensus seems to be that his conditioning was better than Samson’s in Columbus. At one point in Jon’s career, he was widely considered to be a legitimate top-ten Olympia threat and now, despite coming off a lengthy layoff that had some questioning whether his best days on an IFBB stage were behind him, it does appear that his new and improved look is good enough to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best bodybuilders on the planet once again.

UK native James Hollingshead also deserves some consideration as a potential dark horse top-two threat this weekend because he, like Delarosa, is also coming off a career best performance at the Arnold Classic and is one of the people in the lineup who has the size to trade shots with Hadi and Samson – not to mention the fact that it would be a monumental occasion for British bodybuilding if “The Shed” could secure a win in front of his hometown crowd as he nears the end of his pro career.


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