Jay Cutler: Derek Lunsford Not Guaranteed to Beat Nick Walker at the 2023 Arnold Classic


Bodybuilding legend Jay Cutler still has a vested interest in the IFBB Men’s Open division following a successful career. Speaking in a recent podcast, Cutler discussed Derek Lunsford and Nick Walker possibly competing against each other at the 2023 Arnold Classic. 

A little over a month ago, the bodybuilding world was turned upside down after Hadi Choopan claimed his first Mr. Olympia title. In one of the biggest shocks of the night, former two-time champ Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay dropped to fifth place. Instead, the podium featured former 212 standout Derek Lunsford in second and Nick Walker in third.

With little time to digest the results, the 2023 Arnold Classic roster was announced a few weeks following Olympia. Initially, Walker shared that he would sit out to focus on improvements for November at the next Olympia contest. However, after the organizers pumped up the prize money to $300,000, ‘The Mutant’ threw his name in the hat.

All the while, fans wondered about Derek Lunsford, who was one of only two men to defeat Nick Walker at Olympia. He posted an impressive physique update to Instagram, which many took as a hint that he was prepping for a show.

Lunsford and Hany Rambod have yet to reveal any plans, but some, like Jay Cutler, believe even if he does enter the Arnold Classic, defeating Nick Walker for a second time will be a difficult task.

Jay Cutler Says Nick Walker Needs to ‘Tighten Up’ Back to Hang With Derek Lunsford On Stage

Cutler expects Nick Walker’s physique to look better at the nearing Arnold Classic than it did on the 2022 Olympia stage. He added that he understands why Derek Lunsford might take time off since he’s one step away from the title.

“One person that didn’t jump in was Derek Lunsford, and people are questioning it. Listen, if I could reverse back, if Jay Cutler was here in this position, I would have ran so quick to get ready for that show because I wasn’t taxed to train for Olympias if that makes sense.”

“We both agree, he’s probably going to be improved in a few weeks,” Cutler said. “I understand Derek too, because he’s knocking at the door man, and if he wants to put all his eggs into Olympia, hey man, it’s his choice. He just collected $150,000.”

Jay advised Walker not to get too big as he made that mistake during his time actively compeitng. As long as Walker brings up his back, Cutler envisions him doing well against a ‘limited’ Derek Lunsford the next time they face each other.

“I don’t know, I think he [Nick Walker] can improve on conditioning with that size. Right, it’s refinement now because he can’t really go any bigger necessarily. Maybe a little bit, but then he falls into what happened to all of us, we got bigger, too big. Ideally, for him, he just needs to come back, tighten up the backside so he’s more competitive with Derek there and Derek doesn’t distance himself from the back shots.

“That whole Mr. Olympia — it’s judged from the back, I mean, we proved this year that’s not the case,” Cutler added. “Derek is limited too. Derek can only get so big with his height and structure.”

Cutler: Derek Lunsford Isn’t Guaranteed to Win Against Nick Walker at 2023 Arnold Classic

Should Lunsford enter the 2023 AC, Cutler doesn’t think his victory would be guaranteed. Cutler added that Walker will have definite momentum this season given his status as the Olympia People’s Champ.

“That’s the thing, is the [$300,000 Arnold prize] even guaranteed for Derek? No, it’s not,” says Cutler. “People are going to agree to disagree, that’s why we get on here to talk. This is how I saw Olympia. Derek wowed the judges because it was such a surprise right, to see him with that fullness. I said this all along.”

Milos was here arguing, he said, ‘he’s flat, this and that,’ and we were like we haven’t seen him full yet. So, we saw him full, and the wow factor put him into second place. He deserved it. But Walker doesn’t think so. Walker thinks he had that spot. The question is: we’re over the wow factor of Derek, so full circle now, Nick and Derek square off at this Arnold Classic… who’s victorious?” asks Cutler.

“Remember, who’s the People’s Champ? Nick. You know what I love… bodybuilding is great again.”

Even if Lunsford sits out, Walker will be pushed by a number of elite IFBB pros, like sixth-place Olympia finisher Samson Dauda, Andrew Jacked, Patrick Moore, as well as former 212 Olympias Shaun Clarida and Kamal Elgargni. According to Cutler, if Andrew Jacked brings up his conditioning, his structure makes him a wild card in Ohio.

“You can’t beat structure bro,” Cutler shared. “There’s a lot of variables [to prepping]. That’s why we hold competitions. That’s why it’s exciting. You know how many times I heard in my career, ‘if so and so gets in shape,’ and it just never comes to realization.”

Just this week, Andrew revealed some big changes to his coaching staff. Specifically, he’s working with the late Shawn Rhoden’s former team, so instead of George Farah, Chris Aceto will oversee Andrew’s prep, while Rhoden’s ex-strength coach, Chris ‘Psycho’ Lewis will handle Andrew’s training for the upcoming Arnold.

Considering the prize money increase, many expect the 2023 AC lineup to grow. While Lunsford has yet to make a decision, Cutler wouldn’t be surprised if he takes the season off until his next Olympia competition.

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