Tito Ortiz—the former UFC champion turned MAGA politician—will continue to serve as Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem after city council members decided not to proceed with a no-confidence vote.
The city council shelved the vote following an online meeting that included a lengthy discussion between council members as well as a statement from Ortiz, who alternated between apologetic stances and defiant declarations during the session.
“Want to know why I have been on the defensive mode? Because you guys have non stop attacked me,” Ortiz said during the meeting. “The difference between this and the fight game is that I get to be in a cage and compete against another man, then we shake hands. With this, I don’t get nothing like that.”
The motion to remove Ortiz, which was presented by Mayor Kim Carr along with councilmen Mike Posey and Dan Kalmick, was made on the grounds that the mixed martial arts fighter “failed to perform at a level expected for this position and has demonstrated little commitment to serving in the role with honor and dignity.” While the Mayor Pro Tem position is largely a ceremonial role, Ortiz is expected to fulfill Mayor Carr’s role if she becomes incapacitated. Ortiz would also be in line to become mayor when Carr’s tenure comes to an end in 2022.
Since being elected to city council several months ago, Ortiz has used his newfound platform to continue spreading dangerous conspiracy theories related to the far-right QAnon movement as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which he routinely referred to as a “plandemic.” He publicly chastised a popular burger franchiseafter being denied service for not wearing a mask, and he was barred from attending a city council meeting at the Huntington Beach library for the same reason. Ortiz also made headlines following a heated confrontation with a Huntington Beach resident, which went viral on social media.
This is a snippet of a heated conversation between Tito Ortiz and a Huntington Beach resident from earlier today. Police were eventually called. pic.twitter.com/MC0URqd1BO
— Borrachinha Depot (@FullContactMTWF) December 23, 2020
The former UFC champion is also a fierce Trump loyalist and used his platform to amplify the former president, associate with far-right groups, and propagate dangerous conspiracy theories such as QAnon, all while campaigning with the Trumpian slogan of “Making Huntington Beach Safe Again.” Ortiz even attempted to sell QAnon shirts on his clothing website during his campaign.
(Author Note: Read Right Wing Watch’s longform reporting on Ortiz here.)
Despite his history of conspiracy-mongering and complete lack of political experience, Ortiz was elected to city council with 14.3 percent of the vote, finishing first among 15 candidates. More than 42,000 people voted for Ortiz, which is the most votes in the city’s history. With a significant base of supporters backing him, Ortiz stated his intention to remain in office.
“I’m not leaving. I’m not planning on leaving,” Ortiz said during the meeting. “I want to make the best decisions for this city. I am not a politician. I am not a career politician. But I am willing to learn, and I will learn. But at the end of the day, I got the most votes in Huntington Beach history.”
In the end, Mayor Carr agreed to continue working with Ortiz if he showed a willingness to alter his conduct: “I don’t have an axe to grind with you. Never have. I’ve never attacked you. None of us have. We’re not interested in that. We truly want to do just want to do what’s good work with the city.”
“Here’s your opportunity,” Carr added. “Show us what you can do.”
While the MMA fighter appeared to show remorse for his behavior, his apology was tainted with paranoia and self-righteousness.
“I don’t think I ever cried so much,” Ortiz said. “People called me a white [supremacist]—a skinhead—that’s embarrassing. And to push the agenda you guys are trying to push because I’m not a liberal and am not a Democrat … I never understood that. You know what I am? I’m a patriot.”