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The Arnold Classic is fast approaching and is one of the most highly-anticipated bodybuilding events of the year. Not only do we get to see some big names hit the stage, but winning it is significant for a competitor’s career as it makes them a top contender for Mr.Olympia later this year. What makes this event even more intriguing is considering who might win because big names don’t always come out on top.

Who are the favorites and who can create an upset? Here’s a breakdown of competition for each division:

Arnold Classic

Who’s in: William Bonac, Maxx Charles, Brandon Curry, Samson Dauda, Regan Grimes, Steve Kuclo, Cedric McMillian, Fabio Giga Rezende, Justin Rodriguez, Brett Wilkin, and Akim Williams

Who’s out compared to last year’s lineup: Nick Walker (last year’s winner), Lain Valliere (Last year’s 2nd place), Sergio Oliva Jr, Mohamed El Emam, Hassan Mostafa, and Seung Chul Lee

Favorite: Brandon Curry

Curry has some motivation to get back into that 1st place spot after taking 2nd in the last two Mr.Olympia competitions. His last wins were in Mr.Olympia and the Arnold Classic in 2019. If he can continue to improve on his physique from Olympia, he should be the favorite to win. 

Surprise Contenders: Brett Wilkin & Regan Grimes

Wilkin may be making his debut in the Arnold Classic, but he has the symmetry and size to threaten Curry. He has made great improvements during the offseason and depending what he brings, it could get interesting.

Grimes has a great shape and aesthetics for this division. After placing 15th at Olympia, Grimes began working with a new coach and has made some great improvements. It’s evident since he took 1st place at the Egypt Pro, so keep an eye out for him, not only in the Arnold Classic, but for the rest of 2022. 

Classic Physique

Who’s in: Breon Ansley, Michael Daboul, Urs Kalecinski, Peter Molnar, Terrence Ruffin, Ramon Rocha Queiroz, Darwin Uribe, Lenny Wicks, and Divine Wilson 

Who’s out compared to last year’s lineup: Alex Cambronero, Logan Franklin, Courage Opara, Bryan Jones, Fabian Mayr, Dani Younan, Tony Taveras, and Jarek Crew

Favorite: Terrence Ruffin 

Ruffin has placed in top 2 in his last 5 shows dating back to 2019 including winning last year’s Arnold. He will definitely be the favorite to win with some improvements made to his already great physique. 

Definite Contenders: Breon Ansley & Urs Kalecinski

Ansley has always been up there towards the top since 2020 in this division. His biggest competition though has been Chris Bumstead and Terrence Ruffin as they have been the only ones to beat him out for top 2 spots the last couple of years. Is this the competition he finally makes that leap over Ruffin? We will see. 

Kalecinski won the Tampa Pro in 2021 and then respectively took 4th in Olympia last year. He is looking to make a jump and get up there even closer to the top. Does he have what it takes? 

Men’s Physique

Who’s in: Erin Banks, Bong Seok Choi, Riccardo Croci, Terrence Teo Kok Hua, Derlyn Hunt, Emanuel Hunter, Daniel Leone, Diogo Montenegro, and Antoine Weatherspoon

Who’s out compared to last year’s lineup: Last year, this division was excluded. However, it is worth noting, Andre Ferguson (1st place winner in 2020) and Brandon Hendrickson (1st place Olympia winner in 2021) are not in this year’s lineup. 

Favorite: Erin Banks

Banks is coming off a 2nd place finish at 2021 Olympia and a 1st place finish at the New York Pro. If he brings the shape he brought into Olympia, he should have no problem being the winner of this division. 

Definite Contenders: Diogo Montenegro & Bong Seok Choi

Montenegro had a good year in 2021 with a couple 1st place finishes, a 2nd place finish, and 3rd place at the Olympia. He will be looking to build off of that this year and the Arnold could be the place where he makes an impact. 

Choi earned his spot in the 2021 Olympia by winning the AGP Korea Classic. Although he didn’t place well in Olympia, he is still considered a fan favorite for this contest. 

Bikini International 

Who’s in: Maureen Blanquisco, Lauralie Chapados (3), Lauren Dannenmiller, Alessia Facchin, Phoebe Hagan, Ashley Kaltwasser (4), Jourdanne Lee, Lucia Malavaze, Elisa Pecini, Danielle Phelps, and Allison Testu

Who’s out compared to last year’s lineup: Jennifer Dorie, Romina Basualdo, Breena Martinez, Jasmine Gonzalez, Gabriella Messias, and Priscila Leimbacher

Favorites: Ashley Kaltwasser

Kaltwasser has proven time and time again she can win big shows. Although she took 3rd in the 2021 Olympia, she did just win her first show of the year at the 2022 Legends Classic Pro this last week. She will definitely be using that momentum as she takes on some tough competition in this contest. 

Definite Contenders: Elisa Pecini & Lauren Dannenmiller

Pecini definitely has proven herself as well with some big wins in the past. In 2021, she took 1st in the Tampa Pro, 2nd in the Arnold Classic, and 5th in the Olympia. She knows what it takes to win, so she should definitely be a contender. 

Dannenmiller may not have placed as high as she wanted to in the 2021 Olympia (9th). However, she did just place 2nd behind Kaltwasser in the Legends Classic Pro. Can she jump to that #1 spot over Kaltwasser and company this time? 

Figure International 

Who’s in: Latoya Farley, Wendy Fortino,  Cydney Gillon, An Da Jong, Nicole Zenobia Graham, Lola Montez, Jessica Reyes Padilla, Larhannah Robinson, Natalia Soltero (1 2020), and Bojana Vasiljevic (2nd 2020) 

Who’s out compared to last year’s lineup: Last year, this division was excluded. 

Favorite: Cydney Gillon 

Gillon’s accolades speak for herself when it comes to being the favorite. She is a 5-time Olympia winner and won the Arnold back in 2019. On top of that, many say her most recent Olympia appearance was her best yet. We will see if she can keep the momentum going. 

Definite Contenders: Natalia Soltero & Jessica Reyes Padilla

Soltero has been right on the heels of Gillon for the last two Olympia competitions and won the 2020 Arnold. Will she bring enough to the stage to get that prized spot of #1? It should be close! 

Padilla took 4th in the 2021 Olympia, but outside of that, she took 1st in every other competition she competed in in 2021. She has some tough competition in this division for sure, but if there’s anyone who can get past them, it’s her. 

Wellness International 

Who’s in: Sunny Andrews, Yarishna Ayala, Angela Borges, Devyn Cambre, Barbara Cesar, Julia Chitarra, Casey DeLong, Kassandra Gillis, Isabelle Nunes, and Lorena Ragusa 

Who’s out compared to last year’s lineup: This is the first year the division will be included in the Arnold Sports Festival.

Favorite: Angela Borges

Since 2020, Borges has had four 2nd place finishes and two 1st place finishes in this division.  If she can match or improve on her appearance from her 2nd place 2021 Olympia finish, she should be able to take home the first Wellness International Champion trophy from the Arnold Classic. 

Definite Contenders: Isabelle Nunes & Yarishna Ayala

Nunes finished right behind Borges for a 3rd place finish at the Olympia this last year. She will have to improve on her physique to surpass Borges, but she can certainly do it. 

Ayala is in a similar position as Nunes. She finished 4th in Olympia and will definitely have to improve on her appearance. She has had some time to work on bringing a better build to the stage, so we will see what happens.

Fitness International 

Who’s in: Jaclyn Baker, Amanda Ciani, Kate Errington, Ariel Khadr, Sara Kovach, Allison Kramer, Minna Pajulahti, Missy Truscott, Aurika Tyrgale, and Tamara Vahn 

Who’s out compared to last year’s lineup: Jennifer Dorie, Romina Basualdo, Breena Martinez, Jasmine Gonzalez, Gabriella Messias, and Priscila Leimbacher

Favorite: Missy Truscott

Truscott is looking to get back on top of the division after taking 2nd in Olympia. She has won the Arnold 2 years in a row, so she definitely deserves to be the favorite going in. 

Definite Contenders: Ariel Khadr & Jaclyn Baker

Khadr has placed in the top 5 in every competition since 2020 with her most recent finish being 4th place at Olympia. She did win the Tampa Pro back in 2020, so she definitely knows what it takes to get that top spot. Let’s see if she can do it this time around. 

Baker has similar accolades since 2020, but her last win hasn’t come since 2019. You never know though. This could be the competition where she turns it around and makes herself a top contender for the rest of this year. 

Pro Wheelchair

Who’s in: Gabriele Andriulli, Anand Arnold, Bradley Betts, Adelfo Cerame Jr., Harold Kelley, Antoni Khadraoui, Chad McCrary, Daniel Minster, and Johnny Quinn

Who’s out compared to last year’s lineup: Last year, this division was excluded.

Favorite: Harold Kelley

Kelley is a 4-time Olympia champion and 5-time Arnold winner. There is no doubt he comes into this contest being the favorite. 

Definite Contenders: Gabriele Andriulli & Antoni Khadraoui

Andriulli has been right behind Kelley for the last couple of years coming in 2nd in the 2019 and 2021 Olympias. Although it may seem like a reach with the dominance Kelley has had on the division, Andruilli is the person to dethrone him. 

Khadraoui is another competitor that has been right behind Kelley for years. His closest was a 2nd place finish in the 2020 Olympia where Andruilli did not participate. That means he will need to bring his “A” game in order to surpass both of them for that top spot.

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