‘Lethal’ Weapon

Sky Sports has showcased the United Kingdom’s best athletes—from the Premier League to international cricket—for over 30 years, so when ONE Championship announced its partnership with the London-based subscription service in December, few were more excited than Liam Nolan.

Despite cruising to a decision win over Eddie Abasolo eight weeks prior, the reigning WBC middleweight muay thai champion could not pass on the opportunity to star in ONE’s first card to be broadcast by the network. The 26-year-old English striker is already a fan favorite, but he plans to deliver a show that will not be forgotten across the British Iles at ONE on Prime Video 18 this Friday at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Whenever I think of Sky Sports boxers in England, I think of Tony Bellew, David Haye and the big superstar names in the UK,” Nolan told Sherdog. “To be a part of it with thai boxing being introduced, it’s good for the sport. I will be the first Brit on the card, and there will be others, so it’s very exciting for all of us.”

Nolan does not know much about opponent Ali Aliev, but he believes he will put away the former Russian muay thai champion. Since bouncing back from his first loss in three years to Sinsamut Klinmee at ONE 159, Nolan has kept his eyes locked on the promotion’s lightweight title.

“I once took some time off to grab an office job, but I never liked it,” Nolan said. “Whenever thai boxing gets hard, I always remind myself of that and how it wasn’t my purpose. At least now I’m following the right journey.”

Nolan, who fights out of London, hopes to expand the influence his countrymen have brought to the discipline. He practiced wing chun and taekwondo before eventually shifting his focus to Thailand’s national sport at 13. Since then, he has toiled away in a business that is as gentle on the body as it is on the wallet.

Fellow Knowlesy Academy stablemate and ONE bantamweight muay thai and kickboxing dual champion Jonathon Haggerty has punched his way to stardom fighting mainly in Asia. Nolan admits that working alongside Haggerty has been vital to his career, but while mixed martial arts and boxing remain popular in England, muay thai is still building its fanbase among the Brits.

Nolan has not fought in England since 2020, but ONE’s loyalty to muay thai has done wonders for the art. Since re-signing to a six-fight deal in 2022, Nolan has seen firsthand how ONE has made the sport more popular. There was a time when only the most devout fans knew of him. Now, he gets noticed on the street, and his social media followers grow by the day.

“It’s crazy because we’ve never seen anything like it before,” Nolan said. “I go to a local show in England and people recognize me. I have people hitting me up on Instagram asking for advice on training, and I try to respond to as many people as I can. It’s exciting to see a sport you love grow up like that.”

ONE’s alliance with Sky Sports could continue that trend, as the platform will put the best fighters the UK offers in front of millions of subscribers. All “Lethal Liam” has to do is give them something worth watching.

“I’m sure Aliev will be game, but I’m coming to win this fight with a big statement,” Nolan said. “My mindset is very strong, and I’m ready to take this guy out.”

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Renan Ferreira