EDUARD Folayang couldn't solve the puzzle that was Antonio Caruso, losing badly in his comeback fight in the ONE: Inside The Matrix card on Friday night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Folayang, 36, looked sluggish in his first fight in nine months and was on the backfoot from the time he was sent backpedalling to the canvas by a short right cross from the wiry Caruso in the first round.
Not even a late flurry from the two-time ONE lightweight world champion could stem the tide as the Aussie got the nod of all three judges to improve to 8-1 (win-loss)
Folayang dropped to 22-10 after losing for the fourth time in his last five bouts.
Caruso's grappling was in full view in the first two rounds as he continuously took Folayang down to frustrate the Team Lakay bet.
But Caruso also stood toe-to-toe on the stand up, connecting with a right hook that rocked Folayang in round two before following up with a barrage of strikes that busted the Filipino warrior's nose.
Folayang tried to mount a comeback in round three, unloading leg kicks which kept him in step of Caruso. But an accidental headbutt at the 1:01 mark derailed his aggression, opening the window for Caruso to once again bring him to the ground and close out the match.
It's a hard defeat for the veteran Folayang to take as doubts on whether he could stay at the top of his game and remain a formidable contender in the promotion's lightweight division grows louder and louder by the day.
He has not won a match since November last year when he scored a technical decision win over Amarsanaa Tsogookhuu in November last year.
For sure, Folayang is bound to have some deep reassessment with regards to his future inside the cage.