Bodybuilder Rafael Brandão Withdraws From 2022 Arnold Classic

The field is narrowed down to 13 men (for now).

IFBB Pro Men’s Open bodybuilder and 2021 Romania Muscle Fest Pro winner Rafael Brandão has officially withdrawn from the 2022 Arnold Classic, scheduled to take place in Columbus, Ohio on the weekend of Mar. 3-6, 2022.

Brandão himself has not made a formal statement, but representatives of the Arnold Sports Festival have directly confirmed to BarBend that the Brazilian bodybuilder is out of the contest. Brandão did not give them a reason for pulling out of the contest. 

There is no official word on whether a replacement will be added. If Brandão is not replaced, the field of competitors will stand at 13 athletes from six countries: 

  • William Bonac (Netherlands)
  • Maxx Charles (United States)
  • Brandon Curry (United States)
  • Samson Dauda (United Kingdom)
  • Nathan De Asha (United Kingdom)
  • Regan Grimes (Canada)
  • Steve Kuclo (United States)
  • Cedric McMillan (United States)
  • Fabio Giga Rezende (Brazil)
  • Justin Rodriguez (United States)
  • Mohamed Shaaban (Egypt)
  • Brett Wilkin (United States)
  • Akim Williams (United States)


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[Related: Can Flex Lewis Qualify For the 2022 Mr. Olympia?]

About Rafael Brandão

According to NPC News Online, Brandão made his first appearance as a professional at the 2017 San Marino Pro in Italy, where he finished in eighth place. He competed four times in 2018, with his highest placing being at that year’s California Pro Championships. He would leave that show in third place, with Nathan De Asha and Sasan Heirati taking the gold and silver spots, respectively. 

Brandão followed that season up by competing in three shows throughout the 2019 season. He began by making his debut at the 2019 Arnold Classic, taking the seventh place position in that lineup headlined by champion Brandon Curry. He finished in second place to Juan Morel at the Arnold South America contest.


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[Related: The Best Strength Athletes in 2021]

The 2020 calendar was heavily adjusted due to the pandemic. As a result, Brandão only competed once — the Europa Pro. He would finish in third place behind winner James Hollingshead and Lukas Osladil.

2021 is when he would finally taste victory onstage. After taking second place to Samson Dauda at the Prague Pro, Brandão nailed his condition perfectly to take the Romania Muscle Fest Pro. As a result, he is qualified to compete at the Olympia for the first time in his career. Should he not withdraw, that contest will be held Dec. 16-18, 2022 in Las Vegas, NV.

At the Arnold

The field being narrowed to 13 makes the Arnold Classic even more competitive and important for the remaining athletes. A smaller field could be an opportunity for a new name to establish themselves as a force in the sport

To order tickets for the Arnold Classic, or to pre-order their pay-per-view livestream, go to .

Featured Image: @rafaelbrandaopro on Instagram