Who was the greatest of all time? This is a question that is asked and argued about to no end in every and any sport, bodybuilding being no different. Bodybuilding is in an interesting situation in that it is subjective, making ones opinion on who was the greatest based on many different factors, as opposed to just rankings, records, and wins. The only way to get an accurate answer to this age old question would be to have all of our former Mr. Olympia champions, within reason, compete at their best, side by side. This competition to end all competitions would look a little something like this:
Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Phil Heath. Although Phil is looking as round and cartoonish as ever, it becomes very clear right away that he looks small, especially in the width department, standing next to The Big Nasty and The Shadow. Ronnie, looking as though the possibility of him being of this planet are slim to none, is moved into the middle of this group. While relaxed, Dorian is making both Ronnie and Phil look a bit soft, however, in the poses the conditioning between the three looks comparable. In the last few shots of this callout, the 30 extra pounds of muscle Ronnie is carrying over Dorian, evenly packed onto his physique, causes your eye to gravitate towards the Big Nasty.
Jay Cutler, Lee Haney, Dexter Jackson. Cutler’s size immediately becomes a glaring advantage. In a similar fashion, Dexter, although looking small next to the other two, has an infinity and beyond level of conditioning. Lee Haney becomes overshadowed due to the fact that Jay is out-sizing him significantly, while Dexter is out-conditioning him to a great degree. As the call continues, Lee and Jay’s superior structure and height begins to pull the judges attention away from the smaller, albeit sharper, Dexter Jackson. The more they are worked, it becomes increasingly apparent that Lee is not being overshadowed after all.
Dorian Yates, Phil Heath, Jay Cutler. Dorian is told to stand in the middle and for good reason, his level of grainy conditioning boggles the minds of onlookers. Jay and Phil are very close. Jay has much more width both in the shoulders and back, as well as superior leg development. Phil has better shape, arms, roundness, and general pleasingness to the eye. On the topic of condition, Phil has a slightly tighter upper body, but overall condition between the two is very similar. Both of these competitors are displaying a high level of confidence, with some to spare.
Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, Phil Heath. As the judges repeat the first callout, our top three becomes unquestionable. Two poses into the call Ronnie is told to step back in line, which he does so with a big smile, pumping both fists into the air accompanied by his signature slight head bob. Our winner has been crowned. Phil and Dorian leave the judges with a classic apples and oranges comparison. Phil is much rounder, Dorian much bigger, Phil has better arms and delts, while Dorian has a better back. Dorian is getting the best of Phil in the leg department as well. Conditioning is close, with the slight edge going to Yates. This could go either way and will come down to good old bodybuilding subjectivity. In the end, the judges go with Dorian Yates in 2nd place, causing Phil to clench his lips together, displaying anger and aggression in a similar fashion to when he took 2nd to Kai Greene at the 2010 Arnold Classic.
Despite the callouts implying that Phil Heath took a strong second, the score cards show that he defeated Jay by only one point. Lee was unable to deal with Cutlers superior size and condition, but was able to overtake Dexter Jackson with his large structure and imposing vacuum pose. It would seem that this show has solidified who are the greatest bodybuilders of all time, and in what order. However, as observed many times before, bodybuilding is subjective, so in reality this show did very little to douse the fire that is fans arguing about who is/was the greatest of all time.