When Roger Bowling started his diet 12 weeks ago, he tipped the scale at 198 pounds. That’d require a fairly substantial cut to get down to the welterweight division.

The only problem is that Bowling (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is fighting as a lightweight at Saturday’s UFC on FOX 7 event.

The hard-hitting Strikeforce import, who went 4-3 with the now-shuttered promotion, meets prolific striker Anthony Njokuani (15-7 MMA, 2-3 UFC) in a Facebook-streamed preliminary-card bout at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

Despite his short stature at welterweight, where his final appearance resulted in a decision loss to eventual Strikeforce champ Tarec Saffiedine in August, Bowling wasn’t really bullied around. His bulked-up frame kept him strong, but as he’s learned in recent weeks, it came at a cost.

So ahead of Saturday’s fight, he’s worked with Michelle Ingels of Perfecting Athletes, who put put together his meal plan and a new approach to camp.

“I didn’t really like the diet, but I got used to it, and my body is running well off of it, so I’m pumped and ready to put on a show for you guys,” Bowling told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I had to lay off the weights completely pretty much and just do repetition and body weight stuff. But man, I feel excellent. I feel better than I’ve ever felt for any of my fights. I think that muscle was the closest thing to having fat on me, and it’s nice to get some of it off me.”

When he woke up on Monday, Bowling tipped the scale at a svelte 173 pounds. He said getting to the 156-pound limit won’t be a problem. And he said that’ll also be the case going forward. While he craved ice cream and other favorites during his strict fight camp, he said he simply feels too good to go back to his old weight and eating habits.

So he’s focused heavily on running and conditioning, and he plans to never get above 175 to 180 pounds in the future.

“I love it,” he said of his commitment to conditioning. “It’s a huge part of my life now. Running away those muscles, it took a lot of miles. But I feel like I can go all day. Training, running, cutting weight – I’m nonstop all day. This is definitely going to be the best you’ve ever seen me.

“… Your body feels so good you don’t want to put that bad gas back in there.”

Bowling, who trains with Team Vision in Cincinnati, had posted back-to-back knockout wins over Jerron Peoples and Brandon Saling before his loss to Saffiedine. Against Njokuani, he’s likely to find an opponent who’s also willing to stand and trade some blows.

That’s good news for “Relentless,” who’s picked up knockouts in seven of his 11 career wins. And with a slimmed-down physique and better conditioning, Bowling believes it could be a long night “The Assassin.”

“I didn’t lose any power,” he said. “Speed is power. I gained some speed, and I kept the power, so you’re going to see nothing but the best out of me.

“It’s going to be an exciting one for the crowd. … I will not let you guys down. It’s going to be a war.”

For more on UFC on FOX 7, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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