Written by Irish journalist/author Ewan MacKenna from Independant.ie https://www.independent.ie/sport/mm...uth-if-he-ever-wants-to-move-on-38757423.html If there's one piece of Conor McGregor memorabilia shedding a chunk of its price on the collector's market, it's the menacing letter sent from his big-money legal team. What's seldom is wonderful. What's rare is valuable. Therefore this is where we've arrived at. Reaching saturation point, as supply is rapidly outstripping demand. Of course it's clearly part of a campaign to clean his name, cleanse his image, and increase his credibility, marketability, and therefore profitability. We know this because for so long he's been all about the bottom line and, in that regard at least, we're at a point of no return. Recently, public relations firm Sport PR came on board and, from the outside looking in, there's an obvious three-pronged strategy. This is step one and, while there's nothing wrong with coming after and punishing lies, that's very different to threats over the truth. Besides, it's not really about that either-or, rather about positive perception regardless of the reality. Shutting up negative press will only get you so far however, thus there's been step two. Back in September, McGregor's name was still plenty big so as to command an ESPN SportsCenter Special all to himself, with Ariel Helwani hosting. He came on in a pink shirt, buttoned to the very top; his hair was slicked to the side like a boy off to his communion; the ego and arrogance subsided via learnt off lines, platitudes and half-hearted regrets. It's all tried to create an old-school and likable version of McGregor to get ready for step three. This involves a return to the canvas. To what he does best. Or at least to what he used to do best. For those of us who watched him in the open workouts before the Khabib Nurmagomedov clash, it was obvious the explosive fighter of another era had gone. The power was there but speed and timing had left him and it was hardly surprising. Marvin Hagler used to say that it's tough to get out of bed to run roads at 5am when you've been sleeping in silk pyjamas, and no doubt McGregor's best has been lost to the out-of-control lifestyle he lived for so long. That last bout proved it and yet here he is, back for more. But this is no longer about proving people wrong. It's no longer about cash. It's no longer about belts. He's done all that. This is about a redemption story. Whether that's possible is one thing. Whether it's deserved is another. * * * Conor McGregor doesn't care too much for journalists. That's fine and he's far from alone, but in his case it comes from the fact he wants to control what's said and seen about him. The method ranges from embarrassing to intimidating. Before the Floyd Mayweather farce for instance, his team contacted ESPN and suggested they could produce all the content around him for $100,000. On another occasion, as he tried to stay in charge of what was read regarding his arrest over the New York attack, a person covering the court case got a call warning that Conor was watching his work closely. Thus, at any other juncture, it would have been strange to see him promoting the work of someone from within this profession. Except at this moment he needs it. So last week on his social media, an article by American MMA writer Mike Bohn went up, and it counted down the 30 moments that brought about McGregor's January date with Donald Cerrone. They were all about the sport, or at least the goading and endless talking within the sport. What wasn't said was most telling though. And this is the problem with redemption in this case. Is it really meant? Or is it just another screen to escape from the truth? There was a time when McGregor hated his situation so he changed it - that was back when he was working as an apprentice plumber who didn't only despise his job but also the direction it was dragging his life. These days he hates his situation so he merely tries to hide it away. The laziness of fame and fortune. For sure, everyone is deserving of being the great turnaround, of providing the silver-screen script around the comeback kid, but regret and contrition come before that next act. We've never seen those, as instead there's been a strutting over of the latest wrongdoing at break-neck speed. Showing up late to speeding charges in court that caused the judge to speak out, paying up and paying off over Stateside altercations, punching pensioners in bars because they didn't want to drink what he shoved in their face. Even his long-standing relationship with the Murray brothers attests to more of the same. For an age their online timelines have featured pictures of them hanging with McGregor from his yacht to star-studded parties abroad. Yet Jonathan has 48 criminal convictions - including four for drug dealing - while Andrew is listed as having 18 priors, including drug possession with intent for sale or supply, theft, and forgery. On the rap sheet there's even the breaking of a jaw, smashing of the teeth and fracturing of an eye socket of a protected witness seen getting a take-away. If McGregor wanted to move on, this is what he'd have to shed. He hasn't, and what has long been needed is therefore some rehabilitation. The fight game isn't a place for showing such weakness however. By now it's as if he held up a mask for so long that when he retracts it there's nothing left behind. And yet a small minority cling to the dream he briefly gave to so many down-and-out young men. They'll even tell you the latest shots at him are about no more than an elitist nation ridding itself of a dangerous working-class hero. He's not that though and, if anything, his best chance of regaining his status is to wait it out as perhaps the country will catch up with his elitist ways. Maybe it's already begun with a large amount out there thinking the difference between right and wrong is whether or not they do it. We've long traded illusions of Christianity for delusions of capitalism and he represents the worst vestiges of that. Therefore what happens next is the cornerstone. But for now those who once said he could do no wrong only see wrong. They lump him on the scrap-heap, not interested in the why and the how around his demise, instead sticking on a tag of "scumbag". It means the water he today dips a toe into is frigid. Before, when he announced a fight, his name in media created a micro-industry for clicks but this time everyone is giving him a wide berth. A year ago, there was something uncomfortable about RTÉ filling their New Year's schedule with his documentary, as if a viewing the whole family could tuck into and find some inspiration. Those days are gone. The public isn't a judge or jury but it is a baying mob that can execute. That will hurt, if not end, McGregor's ambitions of going back in time. As for the real him, or what's left of the real him, legal letters can hide the truth from everyone else. But at some point he'll have to deal with it if he ever wants to move on.