At the start of 2023, Khabib Nurmagomedov announced a plan to step back from the world of combat sports entirely to focus on his family. This followed his retirement from competition in 2020, ending his career at 29-0.
Khabib has been good to his word on both counts. There hasn’t been a legit whisper of him fighting again since he left the cage in Abu Dhabi. And despite a lot of pressure from his close friends and former teammates, we haven’t really seen Nurmagomedov at camps or cageside since his January announcement.
That’s good for his family, but a bummer for his fans. Perhaps that’s why people reacted so poorly to a recent promotional tweet from Khabib (that totally wasn’t from Khabib) that started with, “Wow, I’m about to fight!”
No, “The Eagle” is not about to fight. What Khabib is doing is promoting some new product that may be a game, but looks more like some sort of NFT or crypto thing. And it’s all being done with a creepy computer-generated virtual Khabib.
Take a look:
Wow, I'm about to fight and guess who's facing me? A younger version of myself! He's all fired up, just like I used to be. But then, out of nowhere, something weird happens. Wondering where this is leading me? Stick around to see what is next @meta_gameplan pic.twitter.com/e44NCqPfn5— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) June 4, 2023
“Wow, I’m about to fight and guess who’s facing me?” some copywriter wrote on Khabib’s Twitter account. “A younger version of myself! He’s all fired up, just like I used to be. But then, out of nowhere, something weird happens. Wondering where this is leading me? Stick around to see what is next!”
It’s all part of some promotional tie-in from a company called Gameplan, which describes itself as, “the first-ever sports metaverse, where fans can play games, create events, shop and meet their favorite athletes. Gamers can take part in a unique experience, attend events and purchase merchandise. It’s the ultimate extension of sports fandom.”
The tags Web3 and NFT come up a decent amount in Gameplan’s social media accounts, to give you a more solid idea of what space they exist in.
Fans did not seem impressed with the “announcement.”
This is awful— Ben Davis (@BenTheBaneDavis) June 4, 2023
I hate how this is not Khabib tweeting and the tweet is so annoying— Nahian (@DeadManWalkin_8) June 4, 2023
you might be the goat but you need better people advising you on your digital licensing… this looks terrible.— Marc Fernandez (@MarcFernandez) June 5, 2023
This is just one of many sponsorship deals and business ventures Khabib Nurmagomedov has embarked on since leaving the sport. Our personal favorite is M-Eat, a horse meat sandwich franchise in Russia. We would kill to get our mouths on one of these delicious sesame-encrusted paninis.
Unfortunately, M-Eat isn’t available in North America. But, I’m sure whatever strange fungible crypto whatever Khabib is selling here will be.
Society is broken.