Former MMA fighter Tito Ortiz quits California city council, citing media 'attacks'

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- Former mixed martial arts fighter Tito Ortiz has resigned from his position on the City Council of Huntington Beach, California, saying he was prompted to quit because of attacks by the media.

Ortiz, who was the city's mayor pro tem, announced his resignation Tuesday night during the first in-person council meeting of the year, the Orange County Register reported.

"This job isn't working for me," Ortiz said.

In a 6-0 vote Wednesday, the City Council chose Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize as the new mayor pro tem. She will hold the post until December. Meanwhile, the council will begin discussing the appointment of someone to fill Ortiz's vacated seat, according to a city statement.

Ortiz said he made the decision on behalf of his family, the newspaper said. His two sons recently made national news when they were sent home from school after arriving without required face masks.

"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, the former UFC light heavyweight champion and a local celebrity, was elected in November 2020. His tenure was rocky after he refused to wear a mask at city events and referred to coronavirus safety measures as a conspiracy.

Then, in February, Ortiz filed an unemployment claim against the city with the California Employment Development Department -- despite the fact he continued to earn his council member stipend and expense allowance. The unemployment filing became public in April.

Ortiz has denied that his unemployment claim was improper, saying the allegations were politically motivated.

In his parting comments, Ortiz said he thought he "was up to this job."

"I'm sorry to let down many of my supportive constituents and I pray they'll understand," he added.