New diet has Alistair Overeem leaner but nowhere close to light heavyweight

The new, thinner Alistair Overeem speaks to reporters in advance of his fight with Ben Rothwell on Friday night at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

LEDYARD, Conn. — Alistair Overeem sent Twitter into a frenzy when he replied to a fan last week saying he weighed just 210 pounds.

He was just messing around, you guys.

"The whole world has gone crazy about some number floating around on social media and everybody sticks it in the headline," Overeem said with a laugh Wednesday during media availability at Foxwoods Resort Casino ahead of UFC Fight Night on FOX Sports 1. "Bad journalism."

Overeem, who meets Ben Rothwell here in the co-main event Friday night (10 p.m. ET), said he weighed himself two days ago and he was 247 pounds. The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion is merely a shade lighter than before his last fight against Frank Mir at UFC 169 back in February but looks noticeably leaner in photos. Overeem is also nowhere near as big as he used to be when he almost had to cut weight to make the division’s 265-pound maximum. That is by design.

Overeem has brought in a nutritionist and has a new diet focused on eating clean. That doesn’t mean he won’t cheat with some horse meat once in a while, but the big fella is eating much more greens and said he has lost a considerable amount of body fat.

Why the change? Overeem (37-13, 1 NC) now knows it pays to be lighter when it comes to cardio. Gassing out was an issue in losses to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Travis Browne — two fights he was dominating early on before getting knocked out.

Overeem, ranked No. 7 among UFC heavyweight contenders, said he looked at fellow heavyweights Browne and Fabricio Werdum and lightweight Donald Cerrone as examples of fighters who come in lighter and don’t get tired easily.

"For cardio’s sake, you need to be as small as possible," Overeem said. "That’s my two cents. That’s something I learned."

Are the days of the massive-muscled Alistair Overeem gone?

The other significant change Overeem, 34, made leading up to this fight against Rothwell was changing camps to Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, N.M. The nightlife in the small city might not be hopping, but Overeem thinks he made the right choice.

"I like the environment," he said. "I like the team, I like the people."

Overeem seems to be in a better spot. He didn’t get along well with his former teammates with the Blackzilians and many of them have publicly gone after him for being a bad training partner — most notably Anthony Johnson, who implied Overeem intentionally tries to injure people in the gym.

Overeem and Johnson have exchanged barbs on social media and in the press. Overeem said he’s focused on earning a shot at the UFC heavyweight title for now, and Johnson is a light heavyweight, so that bout isn’t necessarily on his radar.

"Not a priority fight, but I could see that happening in the future," he said.

And in the immediate future?

"Friday, destroying Ben Rothwell, first or second round," Overeem said, matter-of-factly.

He wasn’t joking about that.