On an evening where Rich Gaspari was honored with a lifetime achievement award, and past Arnold Classic champions were brought up on stage to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the competition, the night belonged to the now four-time champion, Dexter Jackson. Without taking anything away from Dexter, who appeared in phenomenal shape, this year’s show lacked the star power expected from a major competition of this magnitude and of course, no bodybuilding show would be complete without a little controversy. The top six was a no-brainer that even the most casual bodybuilding fan could have predicted. But the fact that Cedric McMillan got called out in sixth place, while Hidetada Yamagishi and Johnnie Jackson were still awaiting their gifted placings, was disappointing. In the end, the judges got two things right: handing Ben Pakulski the Most Muscular Award and declaring Dexter Jackson the 2013 Arnold Classic champion.
For anyone who watched the pre-judging live or online, it was obvious that the judges prematurely rendered Dexter Jackson the champion by only calling him out once. The judges could have at least brought him out for a second comparison to make it seem like he would have to at least earn some points in the finals to capture his fourth ASC title. As for the actual show overall, the biggest names in bodybuilding sent out a clear message that they would much rather spend their time on the expo floor signing autographs and taking pics with the fans than compete on the main stage. It has become commonplace for most of the top 10 pros in the sport to save themselves for the Mr. Olympia and Dexter Jackson even admitted that his main reason for competing in this year’s ASC was because none of the big boys were in it. If this trend continues, the prestigious Arnold Classic will become just another qualifying show for the Olympia, much like the New York and Toronto Pro shows. The athletes are doing the sport and the fans a huge disservice by shunning the Arnold Classic and I think the IFBB needs to step up and get the top guys competing at the Arnold’s again.
At the end of the night, Dexter Jackson is in the record books beside Flex Wheeler with four Arnold Classic championships. Would the victory have been sweeter had some bigger names entered the competition? Of course! But this is in no way diminishes the fact that “The Blade” Dexter Jackson, has now cemented his place among bodybuilding’s elite.
The 2013 Arnold Classic Top Six
1) Dexter Jackson
2) Ben Pakulski
3) Toney Freeman
4) Johnnie Jackson
5) Hidetada Yamagishi
6) Cedric McMillan