Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla explains why he uses UFC fights to motivate NBA Finals team

UFC CEO Dana White is a big fan of the Boston Celtics, and perhaps coincidentally, Joe Mazzulla, the head coach of the NBA Finals team, uses the promotion’s fight footage to motivate his players.

Mazzulla, whose Celtics are currently up 3-0 in the NBA Finals series against the Dallas Mavericks, says he frequently shows his team fight footage, including bouts as recent as UFC 302, to teach lessons about staying focused in the heat of battle.

With his team on the verge of winning the franchise’s 18th championship, the last thing he wants to see is his team lose focus with their commanding lead.

“The closer you think you’re getting to submit someone, is usually when you get submitted,” Mazzulla said during a pre-game press conference before Game 3.

Mazzulla would coach his team to victory in Game 3, the first of two at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

One fight in particular that came to mind for Mazzulla, was how UFC light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira responded to a low blow in his fight against Jamahal Hill, versus how another fighter allowed the same foul to take him off his game.

“There’s a lot of them (that I show),” Mazzulla said. “Usually every single fight. But I think it was (UFC) 302. The guy gets hit in the nuts, complains to the ref and complains to the referee and gets distracted, and then he gets choked out the next round. So he lost his focus. You see Pereira gets hit in the nuts, looks at the referee, knocks the guy out five seconds later.

“So it’s the approach to what happens to you and how you handle it. The closer you think you are to beating someone, the closer you are to getting your ass kicked. So tonight I expect the best out of Dallas and we’ve got to be ready for a fight.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie