While Nelson says he wasn't too impressed with either Brock Lesnar or Shane Carwin in their heavyweight title fight in July, his feelings about Dos Santos are different.
The 26-year-old fighter is a perfect 5-0 since joining the UFC in 2008, with four of those fights ending in the first round.
Nelson admitted Dos Santos' striking is probably the best of any opponent he's seen in his six-year career.
He also added that although there is no belt around the Brazilian's waist, he is the UFC's top heavyweight.
"Hands down, I think he's the best guy in the UFC right now," Nelson said. "This is my title fight, because I look at it as I think this guy can beat the guy who has the belt. I think Junior is the best."
As much respect as Nelson has for his opponent's game, the calm grin on his face as he answers questions about the matchup shows his underlying confidence in how the fight will go.
"Big Country" Nelson didn't opt to bring in any special sparring partners or coaches to mimic Dos Santos's style. Instead, he opted to train with the same, small group of fighters he always does — referred to, affectionately, as the "Country Club."
A former IFL champion, Nelson didn't get to this point in his career basing his game plan around others.
One fight away from the UFC heavyweight title, he's not about to change that attitude now.
"A lot of guys need to have that, but I feel if you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, you're going to dictate the fight," Nelson said. "You're going to impose your will. It's not, 'How do I stop his will?' The whole fight-game mentality is different.
"If you're thinking about what he's doing, then you're not really believing in the tools you have."
In a way, it appears that Nelson's self-confidence has accelerated his path to the top of the division.
The 34-year-old fighter didn't come to the UFC to take easy bouts and preserve his contract.
He came to win the title and say yes to the fights others say no to.
"If I didn't think I was the best in the world, I'd be fighting in another organization," Nelson said. "I'm always the guy who wants to challenge myself.
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