Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla boosted his profile after the 2024 NBA Finals, and he could be in for a spotlight role in another sport.

Mazzulla helped guide Boston to its 18th championship. The victory over the Dallas Mavericks was a long time coming for the 35-year-old who visualized the moment for longer than fans probably knew.

That wasn’t the case last season when the Celtics fell short to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. But Mazzulla still attended UFC 292 at TD Garden to support UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang, who met the head coach during a jiu-jitsu training session.

There’s a new dynamic now the pair are both champions.

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“Coach Mazzulla is a champion,” Zhang said via a translator, per Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso on Thursday. “And he is welcome to come in my corner during a fight.”

Mazzulla incorporates what he’s learned from MMA into his coaching style, and the results speak for themselves.

“The NBA is very, very popular in China,” Zhang said. “I am a Celtics fan, and I watch all the Celtics games. I admire the way he coaches. His approach is a patient one. You can see the similarities between basketball and MMA in the way he coaches. Both require endurance. You need to keep calm.

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“His philosophy brought his team together. They are very united. That separates them from other teams.”

Mazzulla watched Zhang beat Amanda Lemos at UFC 292 in Boston, and the 34-year-old prepares for his third straight title defense that could be announced this summer. Having Mazzulla in her corner could help her chase Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s feat of five successful title defenses.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images