Coleman thinks Lunsford has the chops to hang with the best of the best.

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At the 2022 Mr. Olympia, reigning two-time champion Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay will be a heavy favorite to finish a “three-peat” in taking home his third straight title. However, with a mark like that sitting on the table, Elssbiay is bound to have a huge target on his shredded back from any number of contenders. According to one legendary bodybuilder, on Dec. 16-18, 2022, Elssbiay should actually be most wary of a newcomer to the Men’s Open division.

On Dec. 12, 2022, eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman (1998-2005) appeared in a video on Muscular Development Magazine’s YouTube channel. In offering some pre-contest analysis of the field coming to Las Vegas, NV, Coleman maintained that he thinks former 212 champion (2021) Derek Lunsford is the most likely athlete to push Elssbiay for the title. Lunsford will make his first appearance as a Men’s Open competitor after transitioning from the 212 division in late Summer 2022.

Coleman didn’t mince words in his endorsement of Lunsford. Even while he ultimately believes Elssbiay will still retain his Olympia title, Coleman asserted Lunsford is the only competitor who can potentially match Elssbiay’s total package.

“Derek [Lunsford] is the only one that’s pretty close to him [Elssbiay] right now that’s got everything,” Coleman said. “He’s really complete; he’s got a lot of thickness and everything.”

Another prime contender for the Olympia, Hadi Choopan, was also someone Coleman highlighted. However, from his perspective, the all-time great noted that Lunsford’s physique is just more polished by comparison.

“I think height makes a difference, as well as conditioning and thickness, and I think Derek [Lunsford] is close to being complete,” Coleman explained. “Hadi Choopan is really good in some areas and not so good in some other areas. He’s not complete like Derek [Lunsford] is right now, but anything can change.”

As for how Coleman viewed the top five at the 2022 Olympia shaking out, he didn’t make a firm commitment to a prediction. To him, any number of Lunsford, William Bonac, Brandon Curry, and Choopan could be in line for a second-place result to Elssbiay.

“Man, it’s so hard right now, I know so many good guys, but I see ‘Big Ramy’ [Elssbiay] first, then second it could be [William] Bonac, he is looking real good,” Coleman said. “Then Brandon Curry always looks pretty good, and then these new guys coming in here Derek [Lunsford], and I don’t think Andrew [Jacked] can place that high … for the second, it’s going to be between [William] Bonac, Hadi [Choopan], Derek [Lunsford], and Brandon [Curry]. Four guys can place second, I think.”

The 2022 Mr. Olympia might be Elssbiay’s to lose. That said, if an icon like Coleman thinks Lunsford has the tools to topple the Egyptian giant, then a tight battle could be in store on the Las Vegas stage.

Featured image: @dereklunsford_ on Instagram