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‘Jacare’ Souza would advise Anderson Silva not to fight Vitor Belfort next

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO -- UFC president Dana White admitted he’s working on a rematch between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort for 2016, but top middleweight Ronaldo Souza would advise his training partner not to take the fight.

Silva is helping Souza prepare for his UFC 194 clash with Yoel Romero on Dec. 12, and "Jacare" believes he needs to face someone else before getting back inside the Octagon with "The Phenom".

"I believe the result would be the same," Souza said of a potential Silva-Belfort rematch during a UFC 194 media day in Rio de Janeiro. "Anderson is impressive, but, in my opinion, as a friend and seeing him as guy that is helping me now, I think he should fight again before fighting Belfort to get his rhythm back.

"Belfort is in a strong rhythm now, he fought three times in a row now. Anderson spent some time off, had this issue now and spent a year off, so I think Anderson should fight again first."

Silva is currently suspended after failing a drug test before and after a middleweight bout with Nick Diaz earlier this year, while Belfort bounced back from a loss to 185-pound champion Chris Weidman with a devastating knockout over Dan Henderson.

"Anderson is well, and I believe he will come back well," he said. "He has helped me a lot. He knows a lot about MMA, and he taught me a lot of things. I’ve trained with Anderson several times, but this time he trained with me, so I was really happy. I learned a lot from him.

"When someone is willing to teach you can feel it, and this time he’s as hungry as a beginner. That impressed me a lot. He gave me some cool tips and you can bet I’ll be fine in this fight."

Silva has no timetable for his next bout, but "Jacare" says it’s a matter of time before he returns and shows he’s back at his best.

"I don’t know what happens with those guys, but he has the energy of a kid," Souza said. "I believe he can do anything he’s done before losing the title or getting injured."

Asked if "The Spider" still has what it takes to win the UFC gold again, Souza didn’t think twice.

"Yes. Yes. Yes," he said. "100 percent, yes."