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The Boston Celtics are taking inspiration from UFC fighters during the NBA Finals. Celtics star Jayson Tatum told reporters that mixed martial arts footage has been a component of the study material that's led the team to a 3-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks and one win from a championship.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla is a big MMA fan and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. Mazzulla has previously visited major MMA gyms, including training with Xtreme Couture coach Eric Nicksick whose roster includes former UFC champions Francis Ngannou and Sean Strickland. Mazzulla's MMA fandom has found a secondary purpose in basketball.

"Joe does a great job of showing us clips and things from other sports," Tatum said on Wednesday after beating the Mavericks 106-99. "He's a big UFC fan, and he's showing us fights of people that -- I don't know the terminology of UFC -- but put them in a chokehold and shit.

"Like, they're about to tap out, and you just see the guy, or the woman, who is winning relaxing because they feel like they're about to win, then [they] give the other person life. I'm just trying to translate that to the game of basketball: The closer you are to winning, the closer they are to surviving... [He's] basically trying to remind us that we still got a long way to go, still have to play the right way, we still got to win, and that they're not going to quit. We should expect the best from them from here on out."

Before Game 3, Mazzulla told reporters that he recently showed his team footage of Alex Pereira vs. Jamahal Hill at UFC 300.  Light heavyweight champion Pereira successfully defended his title by knocking out Hill moments after the champ received an illegal groin strike.

"You see Pereira gets hit in the nuts [then] looks at the referee, and knocks [Jamahal Hill] out five seconds later," Mazzulla said. "So it's the approach to what happens to you and how you handle it -- the closer you are to beating someone, the closer you are to getting your ass kicked."

The Celtics, equipped with MMA knowledge, look to sweep the Mavericks in Game 4 on Friday for the franchise's first title since 2018 and would break a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most by any franchise in the sport.