The British fighters are thriving on ONE Championship’s Muay Thai cards. Nico Carrillo is following in the footsteps of Liam Harrison and Jonathan Haggerty by enjoying success with the promotion.

He has the chance to emulate the former on Friday by beating Nong-O Gaiyanghadao. It is the biggest fight of Carrillo’s life and he thinks a win over the Thai legend could set up an all British fight with reigning bantamweight champion Haggerty,

“Beating Nong-O would put me down arguably as one of the best foreign Muay Thai fighters ever, apart from Haggerty, which is also in my mind. Then it’s off to fight him to prove who the best-ever foreign Muay Thai fighter is in history. Is it me, or is it Haggerty?”

Absolutely massive

Jean-Charles Skarbowsky and Danny Bill might have something to say about that. But this is a new era and the likes of Carrillo and Haggerty are beating the top Thais at their own game.

Carrillo has already beaten Muangthai PKSaenchaigym, becoming the second British fighter after Harrison to beat the former Lumpinee champion. Nong-O was arguably the top Muay Thai fighter on the roster before his loss to Haggerty and the 25 year old sees this as an even bigger fight,

“The magnitude of the fight is absolutely massive. A lot of people would go into a fight like this with the mindset of, ‘I’ve nothing to lose, it’s Nong-O’ that just isn’t my mindset, I’ve got everything to lose. Because in this game, it’s snakes and ladders, you lose one fight, and you’ve got to work your way back up to the top.”

Nong-O is 37 and coming off a stoppage loss to Haggerty. Carrillo feels that makes this is the perfect time to fight him,

“Coming off such a bad knockout at his age, I just don’t feel like he can recover, so it’s probably the best time to fight him. Then it’s off to be the world champion next year.”

Strength and power

Carrillo was unknown outside of the UK when he signed for ONE Championship. His reputation has been massively enhanced in 2023 but the Scottish fighter says he has always had his eyes on the biggest prize,

“I’m not looking past Nong-O because I know I’ve got a massive task at hand, but the day I signed with ONE Championship, I had gold on my mind.”

Much has been made of Carrillo’s size. He towered over Muangthai and will have a height advantage against Nong-O but says a lot of work has gone into developing his body in order to be able to compete at bantamweight,

“I believe the size will definitely be a factor. But not only size, also the strength and the power. This doesn’t only come from my size, this comes from me training specifically explosively for the last five or six years. That’s why I can make this weight comfortably, and that’s why I can be so explosive and powerful at the weight.”


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Passing the torch

Nong-O will have his work cut out trying to deal with Carrillo’s size and strength. The Scottish fighter will not just be relying on brute force though he has studied his opponent and sees some holes in the game of the Thai veteran,

“His weaknesses, from what I’ve studied, are that he drops his hands when he leans in. When he’s getting boxed, he doesn’t try to get out of the way of the shots he just waits for them to be over so that he can then throw them back. Then when he does, he lunges in with his hands down, so there’s lots of little stuff that I’m going to be sure to exploit.”

Nong-O wants to recapture the bantamweight belt he lost to Haggerty earlier this year. He knows the path to that rematch runs through Carrillo but the Scottish fighter feels that his opponent’s time has come.

Carrillo acknowledges that Nong-O has ‘had it all’ but at Lumpinee Stadium this Friday Carrillo he coming for what he believes should be his,

“I’m younger, I’m hungrier. Nong-O has already had it all. He’s already had the belts, the riches, the fame. I believe it’s time for him to pass the torch to a younger, hungrier person more deserving of the title shot.”