Going into the 2020 Olympia, there are a lot of storylines that fans will be following. But none are more anticipated than the clash between reigning champion Brandon Curry and 7-time Sandow winner Phil Heath, who’s making his long-awaited return to the bodybuilding stage.

This epic clash in the making didn’t just start when Heath, who missed the 2019 Olympia after coming in second the year prior, announced his return. In truth, Heath’s and Curry’s battle for the Sandow and Mr. Olympia title started 12 years ago

In 2008, Heath, fresh off his first pro victory in the IFBB Iron Man and a runner-up at the Arnold Classic, placed third in his Olympia debut. For the next two years, “the Gift” placed in the Top 5 before beginning his reign at the top of bodybuilding began, racking up seven straight Sandows from 2012 to 2018.

Also in 2008, a highly-touted amateur by the name of Brandon Curry lived up to his billing as one of bodybuilding’s future stars, earning his pro card by winning the men’s overall title at that year’s NPC USA Bodybuilding and Figure Championships.

Eleven years later, Curry would reach bodybuilding’s pinnacle, becoming the 15th athlete to be crowned Mr. Olympia. However, some fans put an asterisk next to his win because Heath didn’t compete in 2019. Would Heath have won the Sandow and relegated Curry to second? The debate rages on. But one thing is clear: Curry was the best physique on the O stage in ’19 and has trained hard as he looks to retain his title.

And Curry knows he’ll need to bring his best as this year. Not only will he be taking on Heath, he’ll be going head-to-head and pose-for-pose with more of bodybuilding’s best, including another former champion: 2008 Mr. O Dexter Jackson.

Still, be it Heath, Jackson, or any other top-tier competitor, historically speaking, dethroning a champion is no easy feat, which gives Curry a slight edge. The last time a defending champion was dethroned also happened, ironically, in 2008, when Jackson defeated two-time winner Jay Cutler. Cutler flipped the script a year later by regaining his title over Jackson.

Can Heath add to his legacy, after opting out of the 2019 Olympia? Judging by the glimpse he gave fans on social media in September, he’s on a collision course with a record-tying Sandow No. 8. Vowing to keep the rest of his training underground until the Olympia, it’ll be anyone’s guess what Heath will present onstage.

“Competing is my DNA. Through the pain & sacrifice, the highs & lows, it is all apart of my journey. I accept this challenge, the challenge to become my greatest version of self! Let’s work!!!” Heath said in a recent post.

Curry meanwhile, isn’t about to relinquish a crown that taken more than a decade since that NPC victory. After spending nearly a year away from his family as he did a year ago in Kuwait in order to achieve Olympia gold, defending bodybuilding’s most prestigious prize isn’t a task he’s taking for granted.

“The plan is to come in a lot more crisp for this Olympia,” Curry told M&F. “Being that I don’t have [other events] on my plate this year, it’s definitely a benefit to me when it comes to peaking at the Olympia itself.”

Professional bodybuilders lined up for the Mr. Olympia Weekend 2020 Event at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas


Where legends are made!