Leading up to the 2007 Mr. Olympia September 28-29 in Las Vegas, FLEX will be bringing you interviews with the combatants. Today, it’s reigning Mr. O Jay Cutler and 2007 Ironman runner-up Mark Dugdale.

JAY CUTLER: “This year, my confidence is sky high. At this point, I’m trying to dial myself in for distancing myself from everybody else in a pretty convincing fashion. Behind me, I still see Ronnie as a contender for second, then Victor and Dexter, but from then on, it’s a mish-mash. I haven’t seen any of the guys lately, but we all know bodybuilding is how you look on the day of the competition. Even with myself, I’m definitely bigger than last year, and I’m using every single day to my advantage. In the past, I said, ‘I want to be at a certain point two weeks out,’ but not this year. From several weeks out, I’ve had a goal every day, and in each one of those I’m really pushing my body to see just how far beyond the envelope I can go. People say, ‘I can’t imagine you being more focused than you were last year,’ but I am definitely more focused. A championship brings either less focus or more focus to an athlete, and after knocking at the door for so long, you can understand that I don’t want to give up those years and years when I was right at the edge for so long and finally broke through. I realize that I have some very tough competition, and I realize there are some odds stacked against me, but I’ve added a couple of new things – not things that are going to drastically change my physique now but things that I’ve incorporated through the year that led up to now. The outrageous things are done. Now, I’ll just roll with what I have and see how big I can win. At two weeks out, I think I’m right on schedule – I think I am – but no one really knows, because no one knows what I’m going for. I’m really hard on myself this year. I’ll definitely be strong enough to win, but how big will that win be? That’s the question.”

MARK DUGDALE: “If I get the right callouts, I can stand toe-to-toe with any of the guys in the fifth to 10th range, but that’s only if I get compared. By my standards, I could be in the top five, but I’m realistic. This is the Olympia, and the Olympia has always been about mass, and I’m not the biggest guy. I think there should be a balance between mass and aesthetics, but that’s not usually the case at the Olympia. The top six from last year can pretty well be predicted to be back in the mix, with a few new guys, such as Toney Freeman, who are right on the bubble. Dexter Jackson has an aesthetic physique; I think he represents Mr. Olympia well. He probably won’t win, but I’d stand a better chance against a guy like that than against Ronnie, because there’s nothing remotely similar between Ronnie’s physique and mine. I think it’s Jay’s show to lose, and I don’t think he’s going to lose it.

“How I think the judges will judge the top six is: Jay, Ronnie or Victor, Dexter, Melvin, and for sixth, it’s a toss-up between Gustavo Badell, Toney Freeman and several others who are right on the bubble.

“How I would judge them is altogether different. I think aesthetics has been thrown out the window. Lots of these guys are big, but they’re big proportionately, which means they’re also big in their midsection. There are a number of guys who have beaten me in the past and who will probably beat me at the Olympia who, if I had to look like them to place well, I’d quit. I guess I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t beat them, because I never want to look like them. But there’s something wrong with that. It’s like asking guys if they’d like to play as good as Michael Jordan and half of them saying, ‘No way.’ To me, the Mr. Olympia is the gold standard, and that’s what everyone should look like, but when you put mass on a pedestal, everyone chases it, and it ruins half of those people’s physiques.

“I’ll be conditioned, I’ll be aesthetic, I’ll be proportionate, but I won’t be the biggest guy. Neither am I a defeatist. The goal of every bodybuilder is to go into the Olympia. First place or last place, or anywhere in between, I consider an honor. It’s rare that you have two Mr. Olympias on stage at the same time, so history is going to be made, and it’s jam-packed with a lot of good competitors. It’s going to be a good Olympia this year.”

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