Nick Walker Addresses His Second-Place Finish at 2023 Arnold Classic: “Samson Didn’t Take Me Out”

The 2021 Arnold Classic champion said his runner-up spot was a "hard pill to swallow."

Heading into the 2023 Arnold Classic, all eyes were on Nick Walker. After coming in third at the 2022 Mr. Olympia just months earlier, “The Mutant” was the presumptive favorite among bodybuilding analysts.

But Walker didn’t leave Columbus, OH, as the champ on March 4 — instead, the judges awarded that honor to Samson Dauda, who had placed sixth at the 2022 Mr. Olympia. This left Walker in the runner-up spot and Andrew Jacked in third place.

On March 14, 2023, Walker took to his Mutant & the Mouth podcast to talk about his Arnold experience with co-host and former 212 competitor, Guy Cisternino. Watch the entire interview below.

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Nick Walker on His Disappointing Arnold Classic Finish

Once the conversation got rolling, Walker said he initially felt that Andrew Jacked had the best chance of beating him, so when Jacked got called for third place, Walker thought his victory was a sure thing.

But right after Jacked’s placing was confirmed, the judges called Walker’s name next for runner-up. His reaction was a simple one: “I was just like, ‘What the f@$&?'”

Walker explained that his surprise wasn’t out of disrespect for Dauda. Instead, it stemmed from the fact that Walker had won the Arnold Classic back in 2021, and if someone is going to unseat a past winner, he said they need to do it decisively.

[Related: 10 Memorable Performances From the Arnold Classic Bodybuilding Contest]

“When there’s a champ here, you’ve got to take them out,” Walker said. “Listen, Samson looked incredible […] but he didn’t take me out.”

Cisternino agreed with Walker, saying: “I’ve always been under the assumption that, in order to take out a champion, you really have to knock him out. And, you know, I don’t think there was [sic] any really knockout punches that were thrown.”

Walker then revealed that he didn’t even want to do the Arnold initially but agreed to it only after they upped the prize money to $300,000. In the end, going from the Olympia straight into Arnold prep proved more taxing than he expected.

“I thought it was gonna be a breeze, I really did,” Walker said of his Arnold prep. “[It] ended up being probably one of the hardest preps I’ve ever done in a short amount of time.”

Nick Walker’s 2023 Mr. Olympia Strategy

As the interview continued, the talk veered toward the improvements Walker hopes to make later this year at the 2023 Mr. Olympia. His main priority at the moment is to balance conditioning with his signature size and shape.

“[The goal] is to be even more peeled than I was at the Arnold but make sure we’re [full],” Walker said. “I’m a fan of conditioning; I’m a fan of graininess. And listen, I get that Samson has better shape than me, and that’s fine — he’s a lot taller. But my shape is there.”

The 2023 Olympia weekend takes place Nov. 2-5 from Miami, FL.

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Image Courtesy of the Arnold Sports Festival