Starting today and 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 last year’s fifth-place finisher Melvin Anthony and 2005-2006 Arnold Classic champ Dexter Jackson.

MELVIN ANTHONY: “I put myself in position to win every show, including the Mr. Olympia. This year, my focus is to take myself from fifth, where I was last year, to the top three, and the way to do that is to take out guys who beat me last year. Specifically, that means Dexter Jackson. This year, it will be more obvious that I should do that. Bodybuilding is about comparisons pose-to-pose, and my package will be better from top to bottom. If you have five poses that you’re winning out of the eight, you beat that guy, and I beat Dexter in a lot of shots. I beat him in the rear lat spread, front lat spread, rear double biceps, and we’re pretty even in the side chest, so I think I should push past him this time. I think the only way he beat me last year was because his glutes were a little more striated. This year, I’m looking to improve my condition, which will catapult me up into the top four, against Jay, Ronnie and Victor, and go for the title.

“Victor will be a different story. He has a pretty complete package, lots of size and lots of condition that I have to get past. He, at his best, will be very hard to beat, but I can do it. I want to be in that top-three mix-up.

“Ronnie is in a league by himself; it all depends on how he comes in. This year, he had a good off-season, so he’ll be tough.

“Jay has his work cut out for himself. Not only will Ronnie try to get his title back, but every guy behind him will try to take it, too. It’s easier to win the Olympia for the first time than it is to repeat it. But Jay’s a good guy; he knows what to do.

“What I have that Ronnie doesn’t is that my symmetry is a little bit better, but Ronnie has so much muscle, and his symmetry is not bad. Jay also has a lot of muscle, but he’s a little bit on the blocky side. It all depends upon what kind of conditioning package guys bring into it. The top five spots will be a dog fight.”

DEXTER JACKSON: “I won’t make predictions, but I’m going to be me. It’s hard to beat the champ, but I’ll be right there in the top four, that’s for sure. I’m pretty much the same, about 228, and my conditioning is crazy, as usual. It’ll be crazy. It won’t be off, like it was for last year’s prejudging. I won’t make that mistake. This will be either my best condition or close to it. Melvin Anthony says he’s going to beat me, but that’s not going to happen. Everybody says he’s going to beat me — Toney Freeman, too. I’m the marked one. They never say, ‘One day I’m going to beat Ronnie.’ It’s always ‘Dexter.’ They’re not worried about who’s ahead of them. You have guys who are way back in eighth and ninth place saying, ‘I’m going to beat Dexter,’ but they have to beat seventh, sixth and fifth first. It’s good to be a marked guy, because it pushes me, and it pushes me even more to shut their mouths. I’m not worried about any of those guys behind me; I’m only worried about those in front of me.”