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UFC Champion moves to SWFL after Ian

Tito Ortiz
Posted at 8:17 AM, Mar 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-17 12:11:42-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla — For 25 years his name was synonymous with California. After all, Tito Ortiz’s nickname was the Huntington Beach Bad Boy.

But now he’s the Cape Coral champ.

“Everybody here is genuine,” Ortiz says. "They’re nice. Like I said, it gave me hope.”

Ortiz made a life-changing decision last fall. The five-time UFC World Champion and Hall of Famer had recently retired from fighting. He settled into his hometown in California to run his businesses, start a political career, and spend time with his family.

However, a few days after Hurricane Ian, he got a phone call from a friend in Matlacha.

“And I heard the urgency in his voice,” Ortiz says. "He said, ’Tito, do you think you can come down and help me? Man, I need help.’”

Everyone on the island needed help. The bridge was washed out. Most homes had wind and water damage. There was no power and no way to communicate with the outside world.

So, Ortiz called some friends who own businesses and in a couple of days, he raised almost $50,000. He personally brought generators, gas, and other supplies and delivered them to people on Matlacha.

“I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” he says. “You could just see everyone was deflated. Everyone felt defeated.”

The need was so great that he came back again with more supplies a couple of weeks later. And that’s when he noticed it, Ortiz says he had never seen a community come together like the people here.

"It gave me hope,” he says. "It gave me hope, that you know what, America is still alive. America is still together. It's here in Florida, here in Cape Coral that opened my eyes to that situation.”

He says he also found a community that more closely matched his values. Ortiz says he has been friends with former President Donald Trump since he appeared on The Apprentice television show, and he supports what Governor Ron Desantis has done with schools.

"We love the nuclear family. We love god. We love faith. We love our freedom and I love my family,” Ortiz says. 

Ortiz decided to move his wife and two boys here in November.

"And it was scary for me because I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into,” he says. "But once I got here, it brings joy to me.”

He says his family is now settled and happy here. He has gotten involved in a number of charitable organizations, and his next project is opening a Mexican restaurant in downtown Cape Coral. 

"Being a businessman and trying to help this city grow, because I know it's going to grow fast and grow the right way,” Ortiz says. "I know I can make it happen."