Scottish fighter Carrillo says Thai crowd 'the best'
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Scottish fighter Carrillo says Thai crowd 'the best'

Nico Carrillo celebrates his victory over Saemapetch Fairtex on Saturday. PR
Nico Carrillo celebrates his victory over Saemapetch Fairtex on Saturday. PR

Even though he beat another Thai favourite at ONE Fight Night 23: Ok v Rasulov this past weekend, Nico Carrillo felt the love at Bangkok's Lumpinee Stadium.

"The King of the North" dropped fourth-ranked bantamweight Muay Thai contender Saemapetch Fairtex three times in the second round in the July 6 co-main event to record a stunning TKO victory and reaffirm his place at the top of the divisional rankings.

At the post-fight press conference, Scotland's Carrillo revealed that it didn't feel like enemy territory on fight night.

"That was the best reception I've ever had. Walking out there, I actually felt like I was in Scotland. And so I know there were a lot of Scottish people there, but even the Thai fans showed me so much love, and I am so appreciative for that," he said.

"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's heavy hands proved too much for the ultra-tough Saemapetch, as he recorded his fourth-straight knockout win since making his first appearance under the ONE banner in 2023.

The 25-year-old's latest scalp also netted him a 1.8-million-baht performance bonus courtesy of ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

The cash-injection added to a near-perfect night's work for Carrillo, who hopes that his meteoric rise to the top of the talent-rich bantamweight Muay Thai division serves as inspiration for others.

"I'm over the moon to get the bonus, and I'm motivated by goals. But, obviously, when you're good at something, I believe that you should get paid for it as well," he said.

"That is the end-goal for me, apart from all the money and the gold. It is about leaving a legacy and letting people know, the way I grew up, you don't have to be a product of your own environment. You can choose another path, a path of greatness. But there's a lot of hard work and dedication that comes with it, but it's up to you if you want to do it."

In the ring post-fight at ONE Fight Night 23, Carrillo made an impassioned plea to ONE brass for the next shot at the ONE bantamweight Muay Thai world title, which will be on the line at ONE 168: Denver on Sept 6.

There, two-sport ONE bantamweight world champion Jonathan Haggerty defends the gold against flyweight kickboxing king Superlek Kiatmoo9 when ONE makes its return to the United States.

While he wouldn't be drawn into a prediction for the blockbuster fight, Carrillo is dreaming of an all-United Kingdom showdown with Haggerty when his shot at world title glory arrives.

"Not sure [who wins]," he said.

"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."

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