Sep 15, 2020 - Sports

Smart ring maker Oura partners with UFC

A handout photo of the smartring Oura

Image: Oura

Oura on Tuesday will announce a partnership with mixed martial arts league Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the latest in its deals to get its smart rings onto the fingers of sports stars.

Why it matters: The deals provide the startup with both visibility and validation that its rings can offer meaningful data on sleep, health and other metrics.

Details: Oura and UFC will make the rings available to all 600 of the league's fighters, though it will be up to them whether they choose to wear one. More than 60 have been distributed in the last couple of weeks.

  • The partnership follows months of study of the Oura ring, along with other fitness wearables including watches, chest straps and fitness bands. "One of the great things about Oura is the form of it and the subconscious simplicity of wearing a ring," UFC Performance Institute VP Duncan French told Axios.
  • The deal follows earlier tie-ups with the NBA and WNBA.

Between the lines: While UFC's interest predates the pandemic and was focused initially on issues like resilience, the ring has an extra use in relation to COVID, by flagging deviations of an individual's health metrics from their personal norm.

  • Separate from the UFC Performance Institute's research, one Oura-wearing UFC champion noticed a drop in his readiness score and decided to get a COVID-19 test, which ultimately came back positive.

The big picture: Oura isn't going into details on the structure of its deals with UFC and other sports leagues, but CEO Harpreet Rai noted that 90% of the industry's revenue still comes from individual sales.

  • Oura also has yet to say how many rings, which start at $299, it has sold overall.
  • And while clearly Oura is looking at its deals with the sports leagues more as a way to boost awareness and interest in the device than as a source of revenue, the company is also trying to build a business offering services to organizations, in addition to selling hardware.

Go deeper: How the NBA's "smart rings" work to assess coronavirus risk

Go deeper