It's one of those things," White said at Saturday's UFC on FUEL TV 7 post-event press conference in London. "You don't rush the kid. He's a young kid. He just had his first three-rounder in the UFC, second fight here. He's got plenty of time. He's got nothing but time."
The 24-year-old Nelson has been competing on the European scene since 2007, and he finished eight of his first 10 opponents in the opening round. That success earned him a UFC call-up this past September, and he debuted in fine fashion with an opening-round submission win over DaMarques Johnson.
He returned to action on Saturday night against longtime veteran and former Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago. "The Sandman" provided a game opponent and refused to go away quickly, lasting until the final bell, albeit in losing fashion.
Nelson's performance was punctuating by his typical, somewhat awkward standup approach in addition to a pair of successful takedowns. White said he enjoyed the fight and said he was pleased to see the youngster get pushed for 15 minutes.
"You know what's interesting about him is when you watch him fight, he's so unorthodox," White said. "His hands are down by his waist, yet he's fast and explosive. He hits you from these crazy angles.
"I like that he went three rounds tonight. He's a young guy, just got into the UFC. It's good to let him get that experience, and he's got to get some more killer instinct, too."
It was easy to see Nelson gain confidence in the fight, especially as Santiago began to fade in later rounds. By the end of the fight, "Gunni" was happy to wave his opponent in and keep his chin exposed while offering up a few free shots. It might not have been the highlight-reel material some European pundits had hoped, but Nelson believes it was a beneficial outing.
"I'd been training a lot of standup for this fight, and I believe this was a necessary thing for my career," Nelson said. "The fight went to the ground a couple times, but I'm confident on the feet and I need the experience on the feet, so I'm very happy with this fight."
So what comes next? Well, nothing is certain just yet. Some believe the prospect is line for one of the division top contenders, but White urges caution and said there's no reason to push Nelson faster than necessary.
"Sometimes you get somebody that just blows on to the scene like a B.J. Penn and rips through everybody," White said. "And if you ask B.J. these days, he'll tell you that he probably got the title shot too fast."