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Aljamin Sterling will be an interested observer for this weekend’s UFC 299 main event in Miami, Florida.

Late on Saturday night, the UFC’s reigning 135-pound champion Sean O’Malley will seek to avenge his sole career defeat when he rematches Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera, this time with O’Malley gold belt on the line.

Sterling, the man from whom O’Malley claimed the title via second round TKO last August and now a member of the UFC’s featherweight fold, will be keeping a watchful eye over proceedings in the Sunshine State — not least because his friend and training partner Merab Dvalishvili is in line to face the winner following his decision win against Henry Cejudo last month.

But speaking on his YouTube channel, as noted by MMA Mania, Sterling said that he has heard whispers that one of the the main eventers’ fight camps hasn’t quite gone as planned.

“The only thing I’m concerned about is I heard, I’m hearing through the grapevine that he didn’t really have a great camp, from a lot of guys that trained with Chito,” Sterling said of Vera, before adding that he isn’t quite sure of the veracity of these claims. “I don’t know how true that is. So with that said, I’m leaning towards O’Malley to get it done.”

Of course, this statement can be interpreted in a number of different ways and remains speculation at this point — particularly given that no word to support the claim appears to have filtered out into the media. That said, it’s a well-worn trope to state that basically every fighters comes into a UFC bout suffering from some sort of injury malady, some worse than others.

But according to Sterling, he is curious to see how — if at all — any setbacks experienced by Vera during his preparation might manifest in the championship rounds.

“I do wonder if that’s going to be the difference, in the later rounds,” he said. “Will O’Malley start to taper off and that’s where Chito gets going with the goods? ‘Cause early on, O’Malley’s dangerous. The knees, the footwork, the lateral footwork. Try catching a chicken that’s moving all over the place. That’s O’Malley. Want to take him down? Good luck. Even if he doesn’t snipe you, you have to be cognisant of that, that’s what he’s looking for.”

Summing it up, Sterling said that for as long as O’Malley is capable of stepping on the gas pedal he should have the ascendancy. But that is easier said than done against a fighter of Vera’s experience.

“If [O’Malley] doesn’t get tired, he beats a lot of guys,” Sterling stated. “But it’s how long can he do that in a 25 minute fight?”