Victory remained elusive for Team Lakay’s Eduard Folayang after suffering another defeat Friday night against Australian fighter Antonio Caruso in their lightweight bout in ONE: Inside the Matrix at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Caruso, who trains along with ONE Championship stars Aung La N Sang and Martin Nguyen in Sanford MMA stable, scored a unanimous decision against Folayang to secure his first win in the promotion.
“I really need to assess my performance,” the soft-spoken Folayang told sportswriters in a virtual post-match press conference. “My mind is very clear on this fight but I think my conditioning didn’t go too well. I really need to check some small details [if] I made mistakes that I need to fix again.”
The 29-year-old Caruso dominated early in the first round, taking advantage of his mastery of the ground game over Folayang. The Filipino fighter tried to get back on his feet but Caruso caught him for another takedown.
With confidence running in, Caruso attempted a guillotine choke with 30 seconds left but the Team Lakay stalwart was quick and clever to escape the lethal lock.
The first half of the second frame was a fair exchange of grappling moves, with Caruso taking his attempts before Folayang looked for chances of submission.
The two fighters, who were exhausted after a lengthy affair on the ground, then decided to make it an all-out brawl midway in the round,
Folayang opened the third and final canto with few leg kicks on Caruso, which took a toll on the Australian’s stance. Caruso wanted none of that as he tried to retaliate with punches straight to Folayang’s face. After the fiery exchange, an injury time was called due to an accidental kick to the groin from Folayang.
Looking for a knockout in the waning minutes, the 35-year-old Folayang unloaded aggressive combinations and leg kicks but another injury time was called due to an accidental head clash. Caruso sought for a last second ground game finisher until referee Justin Brown untangled the two as the final bell rang.
Despite the loss, Folayang admitted “feeling good” after being back in the Circle after nine long months of hiatus but noted some adjustments he had to make with select live spectators at the venue.
“It’s not the result that we wanted and I think the pandemic really hits me,” said the two-time lightweight champion, who had lost four of his last five fights since 2019.
Caruso, meanwhile, improved to an 8-1 record while the Igorot warrior now holds a 22-10 slate.