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To the Victor...

Victor Martinez and what could have been.

by

Per Bernal

HIS YEAR

First things first. He bested two future Mr. O’s, Dexter Jackson and Phil Heath, on his way to a decisive victory at the 2007 Arnold Classic. It was and still is his greatest victory. But in the aftermath, the chatter was not about him possibly toppling the new king Cutler. After Cutler had struggled so long to defeat Coleman, the bodybuilding world assumed his only possible competition next time was the vengeful, eight-time Mr. O. But Ronnie was no longer Ronnie. Frankly, the consensus was to expect no drama in the Orleans Arena in 2007. Just give Cutler his second Sandow, and let the other top placings sort out for future years. But then Cutler was off. And Martinez was on. And from the bottom depths the year before, Dennis Wolf was so stupendous fans howled for him.

After three of the four judging rounds, Jay Cutler held merely a one-point advantage over Victor Martinez, and the challenger had just won Round 3. Talk about drama! In the end, the reigning champ repeated by only four points, making this Olympia the closest of the modern era and arguably ever. It wasn’t just a toss-up on scorecards. At 250 pounds, the Dominican Dominator beat the 267-pound champ in three poses (front double biceps, side chest, abs and thigh), lost in three (front lat spread, rear lat spread, rear double biceps), and at least tied in the other two (side triceps, most-muscular). (But, wait, Dennis Wolf had the best rear double biceps, front lat spread, and most-muscular in the show.) You can make a strong case that Martinez was the superior bodybuilder on Sept. 28-29. Many people did, and many still do. But when it had been about Coleman and Cutler for so long, it was hard to wrap your head around Martinez having as many Sandows as Cutler. Only later, with time to focus on comparisons, did it come into focus. Well, wait till next year! 

“This was only his first second at the Olympia. Try getting second four times. That’s when you really feel the pain,” Cutler said backstage with his second Sandow in hand. “He’ll be back. And I’ll be waiting. He’ll have another chance next year.” 

A few minutes before when Cutler was giving his acceptance speech, Martinez was backstage, still a bit stunned by how close he had just come to immortality. “I got work to do next year. Things will go my way, too, one day.” A moment later, he added with a weary smile, “Next year.”

 

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