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Side-by-side pic: UFC 169's Alistair Overeem 'before' and 'after' focusing on cardio, not muscle mass

The struggling heavyweight striker has gone into the shop for repairs (see below). But will the a rebirth for "The Reem" translate into a win in "The Garden State?"

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

What goes up, must come down.

That includes the muscle mass of Alistair Overeem, which may have played a role in a pair of unsuccessful appearances inside the Octagon. After Antonio Silva knocked him silly at UFC 156, budding heavyweight contender Travis Browne kicked his head into the sixth row at UFC Fight Night 26 last August.

Time to shed some of that extra horse meat and ramp up the conditioning.

"I actually dropped some weight," Overeem told MMA Junkie. "I wanted improved cardio, so obviously you want to lose some weight. That actually goes automatic. A lot more cardio and you automatically lose a lot of weight. We just wanted [my cardio] to be better."

This news may come as a surprise, considering "Demolition Man" already had what he called "crazy cardio" after training with pro football players (really). Overeem likely bartered some of his conditioning for power after abandoning the light heavyweight division a few years back.

But it hasn't come without a price.

"The Reem" was popped for testosterone abuse in early 2012, after the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) surprised him at a Las Vegas casino, asking for a glass of Dutch lemonade. Following nine months on the sidelines, the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion returned to form, but has yet to secure a win.

We'll see if his new and improved physique (see below) will make a difference (click to enlarge).

Photos by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.

Despite his weight loss, "Reem" is actually a pound-and-a-half heavier now than in his last fight.

Overeem (36-13) is currently set to do battle against fellow struggling heavyweight Frank Mir on the main card of the UFC 169 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 1, 2014) inside Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey (preview here).

You liking his chances?

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