Defending champion Phil Heath is a strong candidate to repeat at the 2015 Mr. Olympia this weekend. The four-time winner is still in his athletic prime at 35, so expect him to only be stronger after another year of training.
In an interview with Flex Online, he sounded like he felt he could be in the middle of a streak like the one Ronnie Coleman enjoyed, who won eight titles.
Heath's chances of adding one for the thumb probably improved earlier this week when perennial runner-up Kai Greene announced on his YouTube channel he was being banned from this year's competition. While Green has been left in Heath's shadow for three years running, he's a popular star in the sport and would have been a formidable opponent lined up next to Heath on the posing line.
Enter the Wolf?
The withdrawal of Greene from the field could make more space for 2014 Arnold Classic winner Dennis Wolf. The German placed fourth at last year's show and was already viewed as ready to make a possible move up in the rankings.
In January, Peter McGough of Muscular Development predicted Wolf's decision to spend the entire year focused only on training for Mr. Olympia could allow him to hit the stage in September in ideal form.
So far, 10.1 percent of 654 voters on a Bleacher Report poll selected Wolf as the likely winner this year, placing him second to Heath's 53.8 percent.
If fans aren't picking Heath or Wolf at this point, there's a very good chance they are going for Shawn Rhoden. The 40-year-old from Jamaica jumped from an 11th-place finish in 2011 to third in 2012. He placed fourth in 2013 and third again last year.
That kind of sudden upward arc shows the sort of drive and focus that can build to a perfect show and a first-place finish for an elite-level bodybuilder.
The big hole Greene's absence has left at the top of the leaderboard could make room for the man they call "Big," Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay of Egypt.
After winning his pro card in 2012, Big Ramy made a good first impression at his first Olympia in 2012, placing eighth. In 2013, he moved up to seventh. Elssbiay has an almost cartoonish combination of size and definition that hearkens back to the memories of Mr. Olympia behemoths like Coleman and four-time winner Jay Cutler.
With two full seasons under his weight belt now, Big Ramy might be ready to start seriously cashing in on the raw talent he's been blessed with and make a big move up into the top four or five.