Dana White’s UFC in showdown with ‘rival’ Pillow Fight Championship

It might not seem entirely serious but the Pillow Fight Championship has found itself in a real-life bout with Dana White’s UFC. The MMA organization objected to the Pillow Fight Championship’s previous logos and branding as likely to “cause confusion.”credit Kevin Kleeblatt


It sounds more sleep-away camp than ESPN: two people hitting each other with pillows while an audience roars them on.

But pillow fighting is, its backers claims, about to hit the big time with a “professional” league, specially-designed pillows with handles, and even strict rules. Welcome to the PFC — the Pillow Fight Championship.

And so much attention is it attracting now that it has raised the ire of the far larger Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The UFC, presided over by Dana White, forced the PFC to change the colors it uses in its logo so the two could not be confused.

PFC’s CEO, Steve Williams, told The Post: “It’s ridiculous. Out of the 100 million comments nobody ever said anything about being confused.”

Pillow fighting in progress
Julia Dorny (right) was named the PFC female champion. But her $5,000 prize is a fraction of UFC purses.
UFC's Dana White
Dana White’s UFC, however, thinks the PFC has the potential to confuse fans who will think it is part of his organization, and went to the US Patents Office to object to its branding.

The UFC formally objected to the PFC’s trademark application on the grounds that the similar branding would cause “confusion.”

The case is still pending at the Patent and Trademark Office which regulates the use of trademarks, but Williams said he had bowed to White’s UFC to avoid a clash getting in the way of growth for the Florida-based sport.

But Williams said he would have preferred to sort the matter out in the ring — but with pillows.

The Pillow Fight Championship's orange logo
Williams adopted this orange logo after the UFC object to it being in red, claiming it would cause “confusion.”
The UFC's red logo
The larger and better-known UFC said its logo is red and that the smaller organization could be confused with it.

“Yes I’d definitely like to get Dana in the ring. He’s a decade younger and spent his entire life around MMA fighters but I’m 100% sure that I’d stomp his skinny a** in the first round,” he said. UFC did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.

A fight with White is not Williams’ only ambitious attempt to get high-profile people to take up his sport.

He has also reached out to two would-be fighters who were supposed to be facing off in a cage match of their own: Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.

The tech titans had initially agreed to a cage match, but Zuckerberg wanted to face off as an exhibition match under White’s recognized rules, but not formally part of UFC, while Musk suggested holding their own bout, and claimed he had booked the Coliseum in Rome for it.

Sijara Eubanks (left) lands a punch to the face of Aspen Ladd (right)
UFC’s no-holds-barred bouts are less gentle than the PFC’s. Sijara Eubanks (left) landed a punch to the face of Aspen Ladd (right) during the first round of a bantamweight bout in Rochester, NY.
A pillow fight
In contrast, the PFC relies on a specially-engineered pillow deployed over three rounds. Points are given for body blows, like the one inflicted by Reginald Newsome (right) on Yuri Villefort (right).

Zuckerberg, who has taken up Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has said Musk is not being serious and appears to have given up on the prospect — but Williams is undeterred.

“They could have easily done a pillow fight and that would have absolutely made sense, no one would have got hurt,” he told The Sun. “And you would probably have just as many people watching it.”

PFC CEO Steve Williams, pictured with one of its specially-designed combat pillows
PFC CEO Steve Williams, pictured with one of its specially-designed combat pillows, says he would happily take on Dana White in the ring, but under his sport’s rules, not those of UFC.

The sport would certainly get a boost from such a high-profile match but Williams says it is growing rapidly regardless.

On 29 January 2022, the first-ever professional PFC event was live streamed from Miami, Florida. This year it made it on to ESPN.

The bout in August showcased pillow fighting on ESPN2’s “The Ocho” — which showcases alternative and new sports — sandwiched between the Viii Sports YMCA Invitational and the FootGolf World Cup.

The ESPN special showed a grudge match between PFC’s two biggest stars, Hauley Tillman, a Miami-native who Williams compares to both Conor McGregor and Muhammad Ali, because “he is a great trash talker and is very funny,” and Parker Appel, who is also an MMA competitor.

A pillow fight
Professional pillow fights take place in a ring with three 90 second rounds. No blows except those involving the nylon-clad pillows are allowed — which Justin Lawrence (right) is dispensing to Terrell ‘TJ’ Jenkins (left.)

Appel ended Tillman’s winning streak, which had lasted since the start of the sport in 2021.

As for celebrity fans of pillow fighting, Williams says that the likes of comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Pitbull can’t get enough of the semi-professional sport.

“We signed a deal with Kevin’s Hartbeat Productions in 2021 to develop a Celebrity Pillow Fight Championship show,” Williams commented. And Pitbull, “loves the PFC largely because it’s great for kids physically and mentally.”

Its operations are hardly on the scale of UFC: so far about 300 people have taken part in bouts in the U.S., although as many as 2,000 have signed up to fight.

Each PFC fight consists of three 90-second rounds. The Dos and Don’ts of the sport, as listed on the PFC’s site, are pretty straightforward. For example, fighters are encouraged to swing their pillows at full force, avoid strikes to the head, and perform “special moves as defined.”

Steve Williams PFC
Williams is also offering title belts but not the prize money associated with UFC, running to $5,000 at most.
Dana White with prize belts
White’s UFC is more generous, with seven fighue payouts to winners.

Fighters are actively discouraged from striking with anything other than their pillows, which are a specially-made combat version, and from pushing or charging opponents — but if the pillow breaks, that’s a win: players get three points.

The prizes so far are at most $5,000, which pales in significance compared to the seven figures regularly on offer to UFC fighters.

Williams however says having battled White’s UFC, he would now prefer peaceful co-existence rather than feathers continuing to fly.

“PFC is a great gateway sport for children and is also a great on and off-ramp for past, present and future UFC Champions, so we can coexist perfectly,” he said.

By John Mac Ghlionn