In the current bodybuilding pantheon, few names are as big as Nick Walker and Derek Lunsford. The two young athletes stormed their respective paths to the front of the sport, seemingly becoming titans overnight. Walker first arguably rose to prominence by winning the 2021 Arnold Classic, while Lunsford, the former 212 Olympia champion (2021), just came in second in a debut Men’s Open performance at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. Lunsford will fail to defeat the new Mr. Olympia champion Hadi Choopan. Going forward, being in the same division, the pair will inevitably take center stage from time to time. This fact is clearly not lost on Walker.
On January 19, 2023, during a period of The Mutant and The Mouth podcast, Walker discussed his official prospects for the upcoming 2023 Arnold Classic (AC) in Columbus, OH. In the process, the discussion about Mar. 2-5, 2023, competition — which recently announced a $300,000 first-place prize — ultimately centers around Lunsford. In other words: Walker keeps a close eye on his elite peers.
One of the first notes Walker explains about Lunsford is his status in 2023 AC. Due to the language used by Walker, it initially appeared that he did not know that Lunsford had confirmed that he would not compete in the competition, but Walker later clarified that they would not face each other on stage. However, Walker has speculated about his opponent’s current physique and why he may be pulling out of a crucial tentpole contest.
It appears that Walker believes that Lunsford should make a size adjustment in the Men’s Open category, as opposed to following the 212 division’s weight limit. Here, Lunsford can take his time training and building size before he competes again.
“I heard through the grapevine that he was [Derek Lunsford] not doing Arnold [Classic]” Walker said. “I’m going to jump in here. Did he add muscle or did he just keep it off? I think he held himself back [in previous] off-seasons [to fit the 212 Olympia weight class]. So I wonder what he got back [when preparing for the 2023 Men’s Open Olympia] that’s the average he has, maybe a little more, I’d say. But he did not put an astronomical amount of mass. He just didn’t have to suffer and lose mass to make 212.
As someone who could potentially block future wins, Walker said he’ll be wary of the wins Lunsford has made. Walker thinks the upcoming off-season is crucial for Lunsford as he fully commits to the Men’s Open and tries to win the 2023 Mr. Olympia. That match will take place on Nov. 2-5, 2023, in Orlando, FL.
“This is the off-season where we will see how much tissue he has [Lunsford] wearing and let’s see what he looks like when he stands up  Olympia stage.”
As for why Walker chose to compete again at AC instead of focusing his efforts on his Olympia preparation, the answer is simple. The new lucrative prize inspired him to return to the stage in Columbus, OH.
“They are [The Arnold Sports Festival] gave me until after the holidays to think about it,” Walker said. ” … I feel great. So they came again, they said they were going to raise the prize to $300,000. I said ‘count me in.'”
Walker has been tight-lipped about what lies ahead in 2023. In early January, he said he was satisfied with a third-place result at the 2022 Olympia but could finish higher than an ideal. that world. Before he works to improve such results, he will first set his crosshairs on a second AC title. While he doesn’t have to worry about Lunsford in that particular contest, Walker seems to understand that it may only be a matter of time before he and Lunsford meet again.
Featured image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram
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