Ronaldo Souza has been training with Anderson Silva to prepare for his potential middleweight title eliminator match-up with Yoel Romero at UFC 194 next month, so he’s as well placed as anyone to assess how the former champion is doing at the moment.

As such it’s very interesting to discover that ‘Jacare’ has told the Brazilian media that he feels now is not the right time for Silva to agree to a rematch with his fellow countryman Vitor Belfort.

“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,” Souza said at a UFC 194 media day in Rio.

“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.”

It’s sensible advice. After all, Silva has only fought once in the past two years due to a combination of the broken leg he suffered in his rematch with Chris Weidman at UFC 168 in 2013, and a year-long suspension from the sport after testing positive for steroids following a decision victory over Nick Diaz that was subsequently amended to a no-contest.

So, for anyone in that position it would make sense to have a ‘tune up’ fight first, but given that ‘Jacare’ has been training directly with him, it’s hard not to read into it that he himself has first-hand evidence that perhaps the now 40-year old Silva is showing signs of ring rust.

However, despite his note of caution, ‘Jacare’ did give Silva a vote of confidence overall, believing that he can make a successful return to the sport in the long run.

“I believe he can do anything he’s done before losing the title or getting injured.”

For the record, the word out of Brazil is that a fight between Silva and Belfort is in the works, with the main event of UFC 197 in Rio in March of next year currently targeted for the rematch.