“I’ve got to take what this guy has and, unfortunately, it’s just how the game goes,” Sterling said. “Being a title challenger, you just gotta go out there and be a dog. That’s really the only way I can explain it. I just gotta go out there and be a dog and grind out every single position that I can and every single takedown that I can, every single striking exchange, and just go out there and get my hand raised at all costs.”

On the whole, Sterling seems like a fighter experiencing that vaunted “putting it all together” moment at the exact right time. From a physical and mental standpoint, he is in the best form of his career, and having experienced the lows of the fight game, he believes this chance is coming at the correct moment, even if he thought he was going to reach it several years ago.

“Reality kicked me down a couple times,” Sterling said. “I had a couple of stumbling, life lessons, and I’ve learned throughout my time being in the Octagon. It’s helped get me to where I am today, so I’m super excited about the opportunity. I’m anxious and I’m a little nervous, obviously. You should be nervous. You’re going into a fist fight where anything can happen. I’m always going to prepare for the worst but, at the end of the day, anything can happen in there. I’ve learned that first-hand. I think my opponent knows that as well. I’m just excited to be here, and I’m going to make the most of this opportunity.”