January 19, 2008

Each week leading up to the Ironman Pro on February 16, Flexonline will highlight some of the top competitors in the lineup. Today, that competitor is Gustavo Badell. When he last competed in the Ironman, in 2005 – a year in which he finished third at both the Mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic – Badell bested a field that included a Melvin Anthony, Lee Priest and David Henry. Now, coming off a 8th place finish at the 2007 Olympia, the 35-year-old Badell is anxious to get back on stage and prove that he deserves to be mentioned as one of the top three bodybuilders in the world.

FLEX: How did you feel about placing 8th the 2007 Olympia after making the final posedown three years in a row?
GUSTAVO BADELL: Like any other profession you have good times and bad times. Bodybuiding is about trying to experiment. About nutrition, about training, how you are going to get the best result that you want to win every show you step in. I’ve been tring to fix some things since the Olympia after talking to the judges. I didn’t agree with their decision but I respect their opinion.

FLEX: What is going to be different at the Ironman?
GB: I was always trying to bring my best condition on stage, better than in any other contest, so I sacrificed a little bit of size on my legs. I did the stepper and gauntlet machine very hard, two hours a day for the last 14 weeks. And trying to bring more drastic conditioning onstage I sacrificed my leg size. I improved a lot of things – I improved my waistline, I improved my symmetry in my body and I’m happy with what happened. But I made some mistakes, so now we [Chris Aceto and I] are fixing those together.

FLEX: Any idea what you are going to weigh for the Ironman?
GB: Never worry about my weight. The last couple years I made the mistake about focusing on gaining size. Now, we’re always talking about being better in everything. I don’t even think about weight.

FLEX: What are you weighing now?
GB: When I was at Lee Thompson’s gym [on Saturday] I was 264 and my bodyfat levels were 3.5 percent. So right now at 264, on very low carbs. And even with that I’m keeping my muscle size. So even though I’m not thinking about my weight, I’m definitely going to be bigger than ever.

FLEX: Having already won the Ironman two years ago, does that do anything for your confidence?
GB: Of course gives it me confidence. There’s a huge Latin community in LA, where I have a lot of fans that support me big time. I’m excited to go to a show over there.

FLEX: I’m going to name a competitor who you will be up against at either the Ironman or the Arnold Classic. Tell me why you will beat them.

Toney Freeman.
GB: He had a very good year last year. At the Olympia I beat him and I beat him many times. He beat me just once at the Arnold Classic [last year]. Toney is a great bodybuilder but Toney is 41 years old. I respect him and for sure he brings the best condition but Toney Freeman has problems with his chest, he’s got problems with his upper body always. Side by side with me I got a more complete package. He’s taller than me, so to be next to me and look good he needs to compete at 350, 400 pounds. Toney will be top five for sure. He needs to bring his A game of course but the day of the show – every body part, pose by pose, I’m gonna kill him. When we hit back shots, it’s gonna be like a kid next to me because my back shot is one of the best back shots in the world.

FLEX: Phil Heath.
GB: He has great potential in the sport, he’s got a lot, a lot of years to come to improve his physique and to bring his best to the sport. But something you can’t forget is it’s about time – I’ve been working in this sport for a long time. I’ve been competing for many, many years. I got more muscle maturity. He looks great but he needs beef. It’s not just about he gained 20 pounds, it’s about where those 20 pounds are going. What about when he turns around? What about his back? He doesn’t have the width you’re supposed to have to be a champion. He’s got a lot of time to improve his physique. But last year at the Arnold I was weighing like 25 pounds heavier than him with the same condition. He’s gonna be a top guy at this show, and I know he’s hungry and I respect him. He’s got a lot of years to come but right now, this is my prime time.

FLEX: Silvio Samuel.
GB: Great physique. I think Silvio has great symmetry and everything but Silvio was lucky to get 7th [at the 2007 Olympia]. I don’t want to disrespect the judges but they saw something that I didn’t. Silvo has alot of good talent and a lot of good bodyparts but he’s got a lot of weakness too, which is the problem with many bodybuilders. I know Silvio is gonna be in great condition but I know my condition is gonna be perfect too. Like I said with Toney, when we turn around with back … my back is really crisp and wide in comparison with those guys. I’ve got more muscle than those guys. Silvio is under 200 pounds. He’s a champion at 200 pounds, but this is gonna be about beef, man. People from LA, they want a beefy guy with the best condition on stage winning the show. They don’t want a fitness guy competing and winning. They want a bodybuilder. A bodybuilder’s who’s over 250. That’s the best bodybuilder in the world in my opinion.

FLEX: Dexter Jackson.
GB: Dexter has a great physique, a beautiful aesthetic physique. But always the problem with Dexter is his size. We bodybuilders, we professionals we need to improve, we need to be better. That’s what Ronnie did, that’s what Jay Cutler did. That’s what Lee Haney did. But Dexter’s always the same thing. We always know Dexter brings the same package every year. And he looks good. Dexter is a great talent but he’s got no size. If I bring my A-game for the Arnold, my total package, my legs coming up bigger with conditioning … believe me, Dexter knows me. Dexter knows who I am because we’ve been doing these shows for a long time. And he knows for sure that I always bring a surprise. If everything comes together, when the timing and everything for me is perfect, it’s going to be trouble for Dexter Jackson.

FLEX: How confident are you that you are going to win the Ironman?
GB: I work very hard to be the best in the world, to be the Number One. And I know I got everything. I got muscle size, I got muscle maturity, I got definition, I improve my symmetry and my aesthetics and right now, the most important thing is I’m in my prime time. We want to shock the industry again. I’m a family man [Note: Gustavo and his wife Jessica have three children], and this is the only way I can feed my family. Bodybuilding puts food on the table. This is serous for me. Every show that I step in I’m going to try to shut everyone else out.