Pro bodybuilder Victor Martinez and Pro Natural Bodybuilder Brandon Lirio break down the results of the 2023 Arnold Classic – with special guest Shaun Clarida.

Going into the finals of the 2023 Arnold Classic – it was truly impossible to predict exactly who would win the title. It was a three way race between Samson Dauda, Nick Walker, and Andrew Jacked. Their physiques were so close that even the slightest of changes could give one competitor an edge over the others. In the end, Dauda out-worked the rest of the competition and won the trophy. In our latest episode of the Generation Iron Podcast, Victor Martinez and Brandon Lirio share their reaction and analysis to the 2023 Arnold Classic.

During our pre-judging reaction video, Victor Martinez stated that he wasn’t envious of the judges going into the finals. And he was right on the money with that statement. The 2023 Arnold Classic was probably one of the closest battles for first place than we’ve seen in a very long time. Every single competitor who made it into the top five showed an improved physique from what we saw in 2022. There was no certainty in who would win. It all came down to the 24 hours between the prejudging and the finals. Who would fade? Who would improve? Who can get an edge for the victory?

In the end, the judges have to pick a winner and that came in the form of Samson Dauda. An incredible victory compared to his sixth place finish just three months earlier at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. This win set him up as no longer an up-and-comer. He’s a champion who is a legitimate threat to the Mr. Olympia. Not in the future – but this very year.

This week we have a bit of a crossover episode. Victor Martinez is joined by U-Natty States Of America podcast host and pro natural bodybuilder Brandon Lirio. They break down the results, go over the top five physiques, and get special guest Shaun Clarida to crash the party as well. Let’s jump into it.

Shaun Clarida confirms that he will compete in the Men’s 212 Olympia in 2023.

Going into the 2023 Arnold Classic, Shaun Clarida stated that he would compete in the Men’s Open Mr. Olympia if he won the Arnold. That ultimately didn’t happen. Clarida earned a very respectable fifth place finish at the Arnold Classic. So would he stick to his word? Or was his close-call finish almost beating former Mr. Olympia Big Ramy enough to inspire a Men’s Open Olympia run?

Shaun Clarida jumped onto the podcast as we were recording backstage – and gave us a quick answer to that question. In the immediate aftermath of his placing at the 2023 Arnold Classic – he wants to stay in Men’s 212 and win a third Olympia title.

However, this doesn’t mean his Men’s Open days are over. He also stated that he will continue to occasionally compete in the Men’s Open – but smaller shows. He is still interested in one day competing in the Men’s Open Mr. Olympia, but he would only ever do that if he won the Arnold Classic first.

Since the Arnold Classic has not held the Men’s 212 competition in recent years – perhaps we will see Clarida compete at the Men’s Open Arnold Classic again in 2024. He hasn’t confirmed anything – but it seems that he is willing to take a slow and steady approach to his Men’s Open future.

A near tie three-way battle: The reason Samson Dauda won over Nick Walker and Andrew Jacked

Victor Martinez and Brandon Lirio go through each of the top five final 2023 Arnold Classic placings. But when they get to the top three – it becomes hard to knit pick who did what wrong to fall behind first place. That’s how close the battle and physiques were. Ultimately, Martinez and Lirio settle on some very small details that might have put the nail in the coffin for Nick Walker and Andrew Jacked.

For Andrew, Brandon Lirio points out that he maintained his spot-on physique between the prejudging and the finals. But that was part of the problem. He maintained the exact same look – but wasn’t able to pull out any improvements. Compare this to Nick Walker and Samson Dauda, who both made slight improvements between the two showings, and that places Jacked slightly behind in this battle.

As for Nick Walker, Victor Martinez believes that perhaps he tried a little too hard. He doesn’t go into too much detail about it – but thinks that maybe in his final 24 hours between prejudging and finals that he pushed too hard causing him to fall behind Dauda.

That being said, Walker still looked improved by the Saturday night finals. To many, the battle between Dauda and Walker is a toss up and comes down more to subconscious subjectivity in personal taste of physiques. But knowing Walker, this won’t slow him down. As he’s already stated after the show – losing only makes him come back stronger.

Wrap Up

If the 2023 Arnold Classic is any indication, we’re going to have a truly exciting Mr. Olympia later this year. Andrew Jacked and Samson Dauda have proven themselves to be top names in 2023 alongside the already powerful Nick Walker. While Big Ramy didn’t make the comeback he wanted – his fourth place finish shows he can make improvements in a short period of time. So hopefully a longer gap between now and the Olympia will only bring him to further growth.

Then there’s the elite athletes who we didn’t see at the Arnold Classic. Current Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan and Brandon Curry will, of course, jump into the mix at the 2023 Mr. Olympia later this year. This all adds up to an incredible collection of talent who can easily claim the title in their own right. It will certainly be a dog fight to the finish.

You can watch Victor Martinez and Brandon Lirio’s full recap of the 2023 Arnold Classic in our latest episode of the Generation Iron Podcast above. Make sure to check back every Tuesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.