Tito Ortiz—the former UFC champion turned MAGA politician—has resigned from his position as Huntington Beach mayor pro tem and city council member, stating “character assassinations” by the media prompted his decision.
The former mixed martial arts fighter announced his resignation Tuesday night during the first in-person city council meeting of the year.
“This job isn’t working for me,” Ortiz said during in-person meeting, according to the Orange County Register.
Ortiz revealed that he made the decision to leave office on behalf of his family. His two sons recently made national news when they were sent home from school after arriving without face masks, which are mandatory for all students and teachers in California. Ortiz had encouraged one of his sons to take off his mask “anytime you possibly can.”
“As of recent, the attacks against me have moved into involving my family,” Ortiz said. “When my children’s safety becomes a matter, I’m a father and I’m going to protect my children.”
Ortiz, 46, was elected to city council in November 2020 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 of any candidate in the city’s history. He was later appointed mayor pro tem, which is a largely ceremonial role but would have required Ortiz to step it if the mayor became incapacitated.
Since taking office, the former MMA fighter has used his platform to continue spreading dangerous conspiracy theories related the COVID-19 pandemic, which he routinely referred to as a “plandemic.” He publiclychastised a popular burger franchise after 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.
The former UFC light-heavyweight 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.)
Earlier this year, Ortiz came under scrutiny after filing an unemployment claim against the city despite the fact he continued to earn his council member stipend and expense allowance. The former fighter also owns two Huntington Beach businesses—a gym and an athletic clothing store—as well as a $4 million home. Ortiz denied any wrongdoing in his unemployment claim, saying instead that the allegations were politically motivated.
“From day one, when I was sworn in, I was met with hostility and judgement,” Ortiz said in his resignation statement, adding that he has been “the sole focus of character assassination each and every week with multiple news stories leaking personal information all to slander and defame my name.”
The Huntington Beach City Council chose Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize as the new mayor pro tem, who will hold the position until December 2021. It remains unclear who the council will appoint to fill Ortiz’s vacated seat. However, given Ortiz’s successful campaign and continued popularity among right-wing voters in Huntington Beach, this may not be the last time that Ortiz attempt to run for office.
“I may be out of the Huntington Beach City Council, but I am far from out of the fight,” Ortiz said in his resignation statement.