Despite Placing Below Hadi Choopan at Mr. Olympia 2023, Can Samson Dauda Retain His Arnold Classic Title?

Published 02/24/2024, 12:30 PM EST

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The Arnold Classic is almost upon us, and fans are gearing up to witness one of the most prestigious bodybuilding contests of the year. In fact, the competitor who wins the Arnold Classic immediately finds himself in the conversation of winning the Mr. Olympia. Last year, Samson Dauda won the contest, beating out fan favorite Nick Walker and former Olympia champion Big Ramy.

While he generated a lot of hype going into the Mr. Olympia 2023, the Nigerain Lion fell short of capturing the Olympia title. While Samson Dauda was among the top three, he placed behind 2022 Mr. Olympia winner Hadi Choopan. Choopan was the defending champion but lost his title to Derek Lunsford in a highly controversial decision. Samson Dauda’s name disappeared from the headlines in the chaos until the controversy cooled down. So can Samson Dauda, the 2023 Arnold Classic champion, defend his title against a rising Hadi Choopan?

Why Hadi Choopan beat Samson Dauda at the Olympia


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While Samson Dauda and Had Choopan are among the best of the best, the Iranian champion has been competing for two decades. While Dauda is taller and heavier than Choopan, the former Mr. Olympia champion has the upper hand in experience. With decades of experience comes muscle maturity. In 2023, Choopan beat the Nigerian Lion on two aspects.


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The former champion had greater muscle maturity and density than the Arnold Classic champion. While Samson Dauda has consistently improved, he also couldn’t match the insane conditioning that Choopan brings to the stage every time. In fact, the Persian Wolf’s fans repeatedly argued that even the 2023 Mr. Olympia winner, Derek Lunsford, didn’t match Choopan’s conditioning.

Hence, the 2023 Mr. Olympia was the perfect example of experience reigning supreme. Now that we determined exactly why Dauda lost, let’s look at the motivations of each competitor.

Both bodybuilders have a chip on their shoulder

Samson Dauda didn’t take his third-place finish at the 2023 Mr. Olympia lightly. Although he made a quick turnaround to win the EVLS Prague Pro after the Olympia, the Nigerian Lion went back to the drawing board for the upcoming Arnold Classic. Duada understood why Hadi Choopan beat him and set out to make specific improvements.

Losing to Choopan despite winning the 2023 Arnold Classic means many fans think Dauda will lose again. However, the defending champion isn’t ready to give up his crown so easily and wants to prove that he can beat a former Mr. Olympia winner. Similarly, Hadi Choopan vowed to improve after losing his Olympia crown last year.

Although he rarely competed in any contest other than the Olympia in the last few years, the Persian Wolf has changed his approach. Believing he may have become complacent, Choopan has been training hard to win his first-ever Arnold Classic title, dethroning Samson Dauda as the reigning champion. Neither competitor is in the mood to back down.

Hadi Choopan has stuck to his strengths. The bodybuilding icon knows that few of his opponents can match the combination of fullness while being shredded to the bone. So Hany Rambod’s pupil aims to maintain his strengths while putting on more muscle mass. Although Choopan hasn’t posted as many updates as Samson Dauda, the bodybuilder has looked bigger in his updates.


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The Persian Wolf has arrived in the States and is currently training with his 24-time Olympia-winning coach. During his most recent updates, Choopan has mostly posted videos of some ridiculously heavy lifts. On the other hand, Samson Dauda has been posting plenty of physique updates. The defending champion seems to have made significant improvements in every aspect.

The Nigerian Lion not only looks bigger than last year in his updates, but his conditioning also looks to have improved. Compared to his Olympia physique, Samson Dauda seems to have significantly improved the mass and definition of his quads and back. Despite the gains, Dauda has also maintained his relatively slimmer waist, giving his X-frame a more exaggerated look.


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Hence, it’s safe to say that the Nigeran Lion is ready to take on the Persian Wolf. After making several improvements both bodybuilders will be stepping on the Arnold Classic stage in the best shape of their careers. While one might think the former Mr. Olympia will beat the defending champion yet again, it might not be so easy this time. However, we’ll find out if Samson Dauda’s improvements are enough to retain his Arnold Classic crown on 2nd March 2023.


Written by:

Sagnik Bagchi


One take at a time

Sagnik Bagchi is a senior bodybuilding writer at EssentiallySports. A passionate fitness enthusiast himself, Sagnik uses his knowledge of bodybuilding to focus on the coverage of major events like the Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic.
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Edited by:

Shubhankar Adhikari