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Is Samson Dauda the #3 Bodybuilder In The World?

  • 8 min read


by Christian Duque

This article was inspired by a great video from Ivan Bodybuilding comparing Samson Dauda to Andrew Jacked, but it’s also inspired by the fact that Samson was unable to successfully defend his Arnold Classic title. Now, it’s noteworthy that he didn’t lose it to someone outside the Olympia Top 3, losing the title to Hadi Choopan, but it’s videos like that of IB that raise questions. Other commentators have raised the point that Quinton Eriya is considered a younger version of Dauda. That’s quite a statement considering that Dauda is 31 years of age according to various bodybuilding websites. He’s very young all things considered; however, what happens in the next 5-6 years is key.

On the one hand, he’s got a very impressive resume in winning the Arnold and placing Top 3 in the Mr. Olympia, but on the other he may also have gone as far as he’s going to go. There’s a lot of competition coming up and the sport may go in a different direction. If we look at the 2023 Arnold Classic, Ivan is 100% right that many people had Jacked beating Samson, even though Nick Walker was wedged between the two. When you look at the 2023 Arnold Classic, very few people had Samson winning the sport’s second biggest title over The Persian Wolf. Whereas 2023 was a close one, 2024 seems to have been pretty cut and dry. And while we can all agree that Dauda has a more aesthetically-pleasing physique than either Hadi Choopan or Derek Lunsford, there’s other guys in the conversation that have equally impressive physiques without pushing close to 300lbs on stage.

This makes for a dangerous situation for the mass monster with great aesthetics than the equally aesthetic guys with less weight. The added weight on Samson may become something of a hindrance to him. I don’t want to take anything away from the legendary Nigerian/Brit legend but facts are facts.

The reality of the matter is that regardless of who you are, the fact Dauda can get as high as 330lbs in the off-season can make it difficult for him to really hit his stride over a prep. The sport has certainly distanced itself from guys that big. Perhaps in the early 2000’s to until when Jay Cutler exited, I’d say mass monsters had a home. Even when Big Ramy ruled the sport for a couple of years, he was winning based on his physique, but I’d stop short of saying that Ramy brought about a resurgence of size over shape. That just wasn’t the case. Besides Ramy, who else was commanding top placings while carrying maximum size?

Now that being said, seeing Ramy balloon up to 330-340 at 5’9 isn’t the same as Dauda at 5’11. You could argue it’s just two inches, but it goes deeper than that. Yes, it’s just two inches; but two inches is a lot in bodybuilding. That’s a pretty significant height difference. Moreover, Samson’s muscle is far more complete and filled out than Ramy’s. The Egyptian Phenom had quite a few lagging body parts, but I’m not looking to knock on the former champ. That’s not what this article is about. Just suffice it to say that Ramy’s flow and symmetry wasn’t even in Samson’s zip code.

Even though Samson doesn’t look darn near 300lbs, he still is 300lbs. In other words, the former Arnold champ is what you’d consider a mass monster and mass monsters haven’t been faring so well at the biggest bodybuilding contests in the world. Samson is at a place in his career where even though he’s still very young, he really can’t downsize to the point where he’s carrying less of the mass that’s filled him out at his current weight. Weight itself is just numbers on a scale. Anyone who knows anything about physique-based sports will tell you that what you weigh is about as important as what you bench. Unless you’re in a weight-capped division, then it’s pretty trivial.

That being said, if Samson were to drop 10-20lbs of mass, perhaps to be more healthy, there’s no way that’s not going to be noticeable in his look. The same way a mere two inches makes a huge difference when it comes to the Ramy/Dauda comparison, if you take 20 lbs away from a bodybuilder on Samson’s level – he could look like a totally different competitor. It wouldn’t be impossible to accomplish, but the smart money would be not to throw a monkey wrench into a winning formula. You don’t change things when you have an Arnold Classic title, an Arnold Classic silver medal, and a Mr. Olympia bronze medal to your name. All he can really do at this point is improve within the window he finds himself in. This means really nailing his condition without losing his size. The issue with that is that we’ve seen what that gets him. It gets him an Arnold Classic win against the likes of Nick Walker and Andrew Jacked and it gets him 3rd in the Olympia.

Interestingly, Hadi is pretty much tapped out as well. It’s a good thing for him that at 100% he can still win huge shows like The Arnold, but can he beat Derek? Unlike the cut and dry results in Columbus this past March, there was tremendous dissent in the ranks with the judges’ scoring of the 2023 Olympia. The fans were also split down the middle and it wasn’t just the Iranian fans that had The Persian Wolf winning. A lot of people thought that it was political and questioned the whole concept of knocking out the Mr. Olympia.

And that’s totally a thing because you look at the 2021 Mr. Olympia and you’re left scratching your head at how the judges could give the nod to Ramy over Brandon Curry. Brandon was firing on all cylinders that year. He brought better wheels, he was super-conditioned, and he even brought an added 20lbs of muscle, but he didn’t get the win. You look at Victor Martinez in 2007 who had Jay on the ropes or 2001 when Jay had Ronnie on the ropes. You can even look at 1991 when Dorian had Haney beat, but somehow Lee was able to win the posing round and hang on. To some that’s just how the cookie crumbles; to others it’s just a bunch of bullshit. Whatever the case may be, Hadi can still win again, but he has to win with what he’s got. Much like with Samson, Hadi can’t really change it up very much. I’d say Derek is the only one of the three that still has some growing left and is someone who has youth on his side.

It should also be noted that while bodybuilding has flirted with rankings before, they don’t really mean anything. The points system is gone, but even if it wasn’t the previous year’s Top 3 are all automatically qualified (it used to be the Top 5). And the fact that automatic qualifications are tightening also suggests that the sport is trying to raise the bar even more.

Samson is the odd man out of the Top 3 because Derek and Hadi will qualify no matter what because they’ve both won a Sandow – Samson has not. This is why 2024 is such a key year for the big man. He’s got nothing to sink his head about, but he really needs to hunker down and prep for the 2024 Mr. Olympia. There are rumors he may compete yet again, this time at the Texas Pro – something that I think would be a mistake. He needs to put 100% of whatever time is left to the biggest show in bodybuilding.

Guys like Jacked, Eriya, Labrada and even Fitzwater and Burton are knocking on the door. They’re no longer in the outer peripheries. You look at Akim Williams who in 2024 has been able to look the best he has in recent years and you need to keep in your sights too. He’s another guy who has been in the Olympia Top 6 and might make a run for the Top 3 in 2024.