by Christian Duque
The world of IFBB Pro League bodybuilding was on fire last week when the news broke out at the 2017 Arnold Classic Champion, Cedric McMillan had been extended a rare Mr. Olympia special invite. To date, such invites have only been given to Kevin Levrone and Kai Greene, two other, former Arnold Classic champions. Levrone took his shot, bringing an impressive physique after a huge absence from the sport and despite some injury-rehab setbacks, got on stage.
Kai Greene, on the other hand, has proven to be mostly drama, and didn’t take advantage of the invite. Cedric, who was handpicked by Arnold as being the guy with one of the most aesthetically-pleasing physiques of his day, could really upset the apple cart in Vegas. That being said, there is some concern over whether McMillan will have enough time to get in top shape for the contest. The Olympia is the Super Bowl of Bodybuilding, it’s the single most important contest in the world, and only the person who wins it, in their respective divisions, can say they are the best in the world. Every professional physique-based athlete wants this title. There’s also a preferred way to get there; most athletes will go on points, if they absolutely have to, but most would prefer to win a contest. Look at 2008 Mr. Olympia Dexter “The Blade” Jackson, for example. As a past Mr. O, he’s qualified for life; however, he chose to go to the Tampa Pro, win the whole contest, and now he’s Olympia bound – in style. Getting a special invitation, amounts to that same style factor. Basically, you’re being recognized as a great bodybuilder, with a great track record, and a very loyal following. I really like the fact that they also gave it to someone who truly deserves it.
A special invite is a very, very rare privilege. I think giving it to Cedric was the right move. He’s very well liked by his fellow competitors, the fans adore him, and the press has nothing but high marks for him. He’s a consummate professional who eats, sleeps, and lives bodybuilding. In fact, when he won the Arnold, many thought he’d seal the deal in Vegas, later that year. Although he did place in the Top 10, it certainly wasn’t the desired outcome. That being said, 2017 was a very big year for Cedric, nonetheless, so much so that it remains fresh on everyone’s minds in 2019.
One big reason that McMillan may in fact bring it all together in just five weeks time, is the fact he’s got Chris Aceto in his corner. He’s not called The Technician for nothing. And, with the very likely possibility that defending champion, Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden will not being able to compete, Chris would be able to commit nearly 100% of his attention to Cedric. The fact is, this would be the year for Cedric to have his best shot.
Right now, there’s no Phil Heath, no Rhoden, and no Ramy. Brandon Curry looks fantastic. Roelly is flying under the radar, so much so, that many outlets are not even putting him in the running to win the show. That’s a huge blunder on their part, considering The Dutch Beast took Top 3 last year and won the People’s Choice award. William Bonac, who like Cedric, is a past Arnold Classic champion, has also been largely overlooked. Dexter Jackson, who dominated the IFBB Pro League Tampa Pro last week, looks like the Dexter of old, but none of the major networks are predicting him to win. They say nice things, but they stop short of saying he’ll win the Sandow.
Even if we went back to 1998, when everyone thought Flex Wheeler would win, at least then there was a clear-cut favorite. Many people today are sort of predicting Brandon, for a few reasons. For starters, he totally turned his career around since hooking up with The Camel Crew, he placed Top 5 at last year’s Olympia, and won the Arnold this year, against a peeled to the bone William Bonac. Curry has also exhibited some serious ambassadorial qualities worldwide. There’s no question, Curry is the favorite, but can Cedric at 100% beat Curry at 100%?
In his heyday, Cedric pushed Kai Greene to the limit in Columbus, OH. If Cedric could push The Predator at his prime, what could he do with the current lineup? I think that’s also why people get so frustrated with Greene. Here’s a guy who could win the title, but chooses instead to draw pictures on Instagram Live, sell e-books, and promote supplement products. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is doing amazing business, but as a bodybuilding fan, I just can’t let go of the fact he could be the best and chooses not to.
This article truly is, all over the place, as I’m sure Cedric’s world must be too. With five weeks to the biggest show of his life, his team must be scrambling. If he hunkers down and gives this 110% he could be the next Mr. Olympia. I mean, just think about that. It’s totally possible and if that happened, the whole sport could go in a totally different direction. That being said, at 41 years of age, how long could he conceivably hold onto the title? I know, I know, Dexter is 49, but Dexter is an anomaly. Most guys at 49 are either competing in the Masters or totally retired. It’s mind boggling, that The Blade just got his 29th pro win, without any lapses in his career. Still, at 41, Cedric would be, at best, a one or two-time champion. That may not be a bad thing, though.
I highly doubt we’re going to see another 6, 7, much less 8x Mr. Olympia anytime soon. The next few years might be like 1979-84, where each year there was a different champion. I think that would breathe some life into the sport as well. Personally, I got very tired of seeing Phil win 7x straight, Ronnie 8x straight, and even the tailend of Dorian. I’m just being honest. I also didn’t like it in basketball or the other major league sports. Seeing a champion or team repeat is fun, do it again is fun too, but over and over and over again, gets boring.
Where do YOU think Cedric will wind up when the smoke clears? Top 10, Top 5, Top 3? Do you think he can win? Do you think he’ll have enough time? I look forward to seeing your feedback in the comments.