Nico Carrillo (L) (ONE Championship)
Nico Carrillo (L) (ONE Championship)

ONE Fight Night 23’s Nico Carrillo: ‘I’m Like a Fine Wine’

If there was any debate as to who the top contender in ONE Championship’s bantamweight Muay Thai division was, Nico Carrillo cleared it up at ONE Fight Night 23 on Jul. 5.

The Scotsman followed up his knockout of former divisional king Nong-O Hama with a three-knockdown TKO win over fourth-ranked contender Saemapetch Fairtex at the thrilling show to move into rarified air, and he was pleased with showing in his post-fight interview.

“I’m on cloud nine. I’m very happy with my performance. And yeah, another Thai legend added to the list. Not many people can say they’ve done what I’m doing,” Carrillo said.


Carrillo had to contend with Saemapetch’s power early on. His dagger-like left hand scored in the opening minutes, but “King of the North” took his time to figure out his foe and attack with venom.

Once he had a bead on him, Carrillo knew he could get the finish.

“I wasn’t surprised [by his durability]. I think he had a bit of a weird tactic. He was ducking his head when I was coming in close, and I had to readjust to that because it was taking the power out of my shots. That was a bit strange. But after I readjusted, yeah, I knew he wouldn’t be able to take the shots,” he recalled.

Perhaps the scariest thing about the talented Scotsman is that he believes his best is yet to come in ONE Championship.

Only 25 years old, Carrillo expects to reach his athletic prime in a few years. As of now, he is still developing, even though he’s already one of the most feared strikers on the planet.

“I’m still improving, even in this fight camp alone. I’m a new fighter compared to seven months ago when I fought Nong-O. That shows how much I’m improving in the space of one fight camp,” he remarked.

“I’ve improved so much, and I don’t believe I’m in my prime yet. I don’t think I’ll be at my prime until I’m like 27, 28. You should still see the best of Nico [to come]. I’m like a fine wine.”

After cementing the top-ranked contender spot, “King of the North” will now just have to wait for the victor of ONE 168: Denver’s ONE bantamweight Muay Thai title showdown between reigning king Jonathan Haggerty and flyweight kickboxing titleholder Superlek Kiatmoo9.

Carrillo will accept a shot at whoever leaves Denver, Colo. as champion, but he is hopeful it will lead to a match with British brawler Haggerty.

“I’m not sure [who’ll win that fight], but I would prefer to fight Haggerty. Not because he’s better or anything. I would just like to be the one to take the belt from him,” Carrillo said.