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MMA Top 10 Heavyweights: Alistair Overeem Is for Real

No one was sure quite what to make of Alistair Overeem as he rampaged through Japan over the last couple of years, astonishing fans of K-1 kickboxing with his lethal striking while taking it easy against overmatched opponents when he fought in MMA. Was Overeem capable of destroying high-level opponents in MMA the way he had in K-1, or would he crumple when facing a Top 10 MMA heavyweight?

After Overeem's first-round TKO win over Brett Rogers on Saturday night, we have our answer: This guy is one of the truly elite fighters in MMA, among the small handful of the best heavyweights in the world. See where he ranks in my latest rankings of the Top 10 heavyweights in MMA below.

(Editor's note: The individual fighter's ranking the last time we did heavyweights are in parentheses.)

1. Fedor Emelianenko (1): He fights Fabricio Werdum on June 26. If Fedor wins, there's no excuse for not fighting Overeem before the end of the year.

2. Brock Lesnar (2): The UFC heavyweight champion will get his biggest test yet on July 3.

3. Shane Carwin (4): If Fedor loses to Werdum, the Lesnar-Carwin winner will become the generally recognized heavyweight champion of MMA. For that matter, even if Fedor looks less than spectacular in beating Werdum, the Lesnar-Carwin winner would have a case. Fedor hasn't been fighting the best of the best, and a Lesnar-Carwin battle is sure to produce a winner who looks like the biggest, toughest man in the world.

4. Alistair Overeem (6): Yes, Overeem is this good. He threw Rogers around like a rag doll and dominated him on the ground, and we didn't even see the best of his stand-up striking, which is as good as any heavyweight's in MMA. If things go according to plan, Overeem will be the toughest test for Fedor in years.

5. Cain Velasquez (5): Although he had a lot of momentum following his brilliant knockout over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in February, the UFC is probably going to leave Velasquez on the shelf for several more months and save him to fight the Lesnar-Carwin winner. That will, of course, be a great fight, but I'd prefer to see Velasquez stay active.

6. Junior dos Santos (7): I hate the fact that the UFC won't match up Velasquez vs. dos Santos, instead trying to save both of them for heavyweight title fights. It now looks like dos Santos will face Roy Nelson next. A good fight, but not as good as dos Santos vs. Velasquez.

7. Frank Mir (3): He's still among the elite heavyweights in the UFC, but he's probably going to need several more wins before he gets another title shot after the way Carwin destroyed him. Still, it's worth noting that Mir is younger than both Carwin and Lesnar. If he keeps winning for long enough, it's not too late for him to make one more run at the belt.

8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (9): It probably is too late for Nogueira to make one more run at the belt, not so much because of his age (at 33 he's younger than Carwin), but because of all the pounding his body has taken over the years in 40 pro fights. But he's still a threat to almost anyone, too, and he might get the rematch he's seeking against Mir in what would be a very good fight.

9. Fabricio Werdum (10): Even though he's the best submission grappler in the heavyweight division, most people don't really view Werdum as much of a threat to Fedor. It's not that Werdum is a bad opponent for Fedor, just that he's not the best opponent Fedor could be facing.

10. Brett Rogers (8): He looked bad against Overeem, but I still believe Rogers has the size, power and athleticism to make him a Top 10 heavyweight. But he's on a two-fight losing streak. He needs to return to the cage, and win, soon.

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