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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

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months — CDC says schools should still universally require masks and physical distancing.
  2. Politics: New York to lift mask mandate for vaccinated people — CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift.
  3. Vaccines: Sanofi, GSK COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials — Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects — 600,000 kids between 12 and 15 have received Pfizer dose since FDA authorization.
  4. Business: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance — Delta to require all new employees be vaccinated — Target, CVS and other stores ease mask requirements after CDC guidance.
  5. World: World's largest vaccine maker expects to resume exports by end of 2021 — Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Biden to waive sanctions on company in charge of Nord Stream 2

Angela Merkel (left) with Vladimir Putin. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

The Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany, according to two sources briefed on the decision.

Why it matters: The decision indicates the Biden administration is not willing to compromise its relationship with Germany over this pipeline, and underscores the difficulties President Biden faces in matching actions to rhetoric on a tougher approach to Russia.

Prosecutor: Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was "justified"

Khalil Ferebee (C), the son of Andrew Brown Jr., and attorneys Bakari Sellers (L) and Harry Daniel (R) at a May 11 news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday that the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies last month, was "tragic" but "justified," due to the immediate threat officers believed Brown posed.

Why it matters: The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death. Police in Elizabeth City shot him five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys last month.