They’ve been on a collision course for the past three years, but something always seemed to stand in the way of their worlds colliding. But on Friday night, they finally did, and bodybuilding’s marquee rivalry of Phil Heath versus Kai Greene took center stage at the Mr. Olympia prejudging.
Heath looked like the clear winner when they first came out, but Greene seemed to get stronger as the prejudging wore on. The final result – and whether we’re looking at Heath’s second Olympia win or Greene’s first – will come down to tomorrow night’s finals, which account for 50 percent of the judging.
But while Heath vs Greene was a predictable outcome for the first half of the contest, the rest of the top five was anything but. It was no surprise that Branch Warren made the first callout, but Warren was clearly off from his Arnold Classic win in March. That opened the door for fast-rising Shawn Rhoden and 2008 Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson. Rhoden seemed to make the most of the opportunity and could see himself end up in the No. 3 spot.
Jackson rebounded from a string of subpar performances that had many writing him off as a top-six threat. But he came in sharper and fuller than he did to start the year, and could find himself battling with Warren for fourth.
Both Dennis Wolf and Evan Centopani were left out of the first callout in perhaps the most surprising development from the prejudging.
First Callout – Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Branch Warren, Shawn Rhoden, Dexter Jackson
Second Callout - Warren, Rhoden, Jackson, Toney Freeman, Evan Centopani, Dennis Wolf
Third Callout - Centopani, Freeman, Wolf, Johnnie Jackson, Lionel Beyeke, Ben Pakulski
Fourth Callout - Bill Wilmore, Essa Obaid, Ronny Rockel, Roelly Winklaar, Hidetada Yamagishi
Fifth Callout - Balto Abbaspour, Fred Smalls, Michael Kefalianos
Sixth Callout - Heath, Greene