Derek Lunsford winning the 2021 212 Olympia / Jeff Binns

Derek Lunsford, the reigning 212 Mr. Olympia, will not be defending his 212 crown this December. That’s because he asked for a special invite to compete in the open Mr. Olympia and received permission (meaning he doesn’t have to qualify to compete like others in the open division). Lunsford was last seen on stage guest-posing at the Pittsburgh Pro in May, where he created a sensation with his tremendous size increase, holding his own in comparisons with top Olympia contenders Brandon Curry, Nick Walker, and Hunter Labrada, who finished second, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in last year’s Mr. O.

Pittsburgh guest posers Nick Walker, Derek Lunsford, Brandon Curry / Amir Marandi NPCNewsOnline
Pittsburgh guest posers Derek Lunsford and Hunter Labrada / Amir Marandi NPCNewsOnline

Ever since Pittsburgh, speculation has raged regarding Lunsford’s next move, with many wondering if the 5’6″ champ could make the 212 weigh-in again and, more importantly, should he even try. Now, the speculation is over. There is no weigh-in in the open division. Derek Lunsford has never before competed in a pro open contest, though, as a light-heavyweight (under 198 lbs.), he did win the overall 2017 USA Championships, defeating the heavyweight and super-heavyweight class champs.

Here is the IFBB Pro League statement on Lunsford’s Olympia move:

Earlier this year, Derek Lunsford revealed a jaw dropping new version of his championship  physique when he made a surprise appearance in Pittsburgh.  The reigning “212 Lb” champ went toe to toe with some of the biggest and best in the world. The photos and videos had the global bodybuilding scene buzzing with excitement.  As Lunsford’s physique continued to drift further from his 212 lb proportions, his focus started to shift to the opportunity to challenge the likes of Big Ramy, Brandon Curry, and Hadi Choopan for the $400,000 winners check and the coveted Sandow Trophy.
Lunsford submitted a formal request to receive a special invitation to compete in the open division this December at the Mr. Olympia. He was seeking the same special invitation that was being held for former 212 king Flex Lewis. After careful consideration, the Olympia promoters and the IFBB Professional League have granted Lunsford a Special Invitation.  The addition of Lunsford further bolsters what many are calling “one of the best lineups” in the history of the event.

We’re not so sold on this year’s O sporting “one of the best lineups in history,” but with Big Ramy (2020-21 Mr. Olympia), Brandon Curry (2019 Mr. Olympia), and now Derek Lunsford (2021 212 Mr. Olympia) it certainly presents an interesting clash of three recent Olympia champs.

And it also opens up the 212 division where the ageless Kamal Elgargni (2019 winner) and “giant killer” Shaun Clarida (2020 winner) will look to repeat, and a gaggle of eager contenders will strive to become the fifth 212 Mr. Olympia in history.

What will happen in Vegas this December? Things are heating up. Stay tuned…