Samson “The Nigerian Lion” Dauda’s win in the 2023 Arnold Classic (AC) probably wasn’t shocking per se. He just wasn’t the athlete some expected to stand on top of the podium. Now, the new title notch in Dauda’s belt is rightfully drawing the attention of prominent bodybuilding commentators and analysts. The overall message is clear: Dauda’s AC victory has put him on the map.
On Mar. 7, 2023, famed bodybuilding trainer Miloš Šarčev appeared on the Cutler Cast with Mr. Olympia icon Jay Cutler. The pair recapped the events of the AC which occurred just days earlier, and, naturally, they discussed Dauda’s standout performance. Šarčev and Cutler would eventually conclude that Dauda should be considered one of the top contenders for the 2023 Mr. Olympia title in early November.
Šarčev and Cutler could have chosen their words carefully. They could’ve treaded lightly around the potential Dauda presents. Instead, they gave the first-time AC winner a ringing Olympia endorsement. (Note: Dauda finished in sixth place at the 2022 iteration of the contest.)
Why? They view Dauda as a well-rounded, elite competitor who can topple anyone, including reigning Olympia champion Hadi Choopan and runner-up Derek Lunsford.
He’s [Dauda] the best combination of everything,” Šarčev said. “Can he beat Hadi [Choopan] and Derek [Lunsford]? Yes. Would his conditioning and size beat them at the  Olympia? We’d have to see them lined up next to each other.“
Cutler would echo this sentiment from Šarčev, explaining that he thinks Dauda is starting to piece together how to prepare for an elite performance on stage. The four-time Mr. Olympia (2006-2007, 2009-2010) related it to his own career experience and put it plainly.
Dauda just has to refine small details moving forward.
“I think now you’ve figured the formula and it’s just working to get the skin a little thinner as you progress,” Cutler said. “It’s just routine now … you’re in that ‘click’ period and there’s a certain click period that people go through. I experienced this in my late 20s … I feel that his [Dauda] peak is a little delayed because of the experience and you’ve seen this crazy growth over the last year. But now, it’s just refinement of the skin thinning down a little bit better. Nothing else. Everything will improve. It’s all about just routine and training.”
After winning the 2023 AC, Dauda would write in an Instagram post that “it’s a dream come true.” There’s no telling what sorts of emotions would run through the competitor were he to win his first Olympia title in the same year. Though, if Cutler and Šarčev are correct in their evaluation, a second bigger dream might be fulfilled for Dauda on November 3-5, 2023, in Orlando, FL.
Featured image: @samson__dauda on Instagram