You won’t find many 37-year-old mothers preparing for MMA fights.

But that’s what makes Mollie Estes unique.

The Missouri fighter is slated for her second appearance in the Invicta Fighting Championships cage on April 5 against Julia Budd. Although Estes got a late start to her MMA career, the former rugby player is just taking her combat career in stride.

“I’ve experienced so many different things in sports and I felt like I was at the end of my career,” she admitted in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “But when you’re in the gym and getting fight offers, it’s hard to turn them down. I’m enjoying each day as it comes.

Estes (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“I didn’t expect this fight. I’m glad I can help Invicta out.”

Help Invicta out she did. Estes was originally tabbed to face rising knockout artist Veronica Rothenhausler at the event, while Budd was matched against numerous opponents including Ediane Gomes and Fiona Muxlow. But after Gomes and Rothenhausler suffered injuries in training, the entire featherweight lineup of the card changed.

Despite the change, Estes isn’t concerned with the last-minute match-up with the Canadian Budd.

“Veronica is known for her knockout skills, so I worked a lot on keeping my hands up. But that’s a skill that most fighters should have anyway,” Estes joked. “Now that I’m facing Julia, she can do anything. I’ve gone over a lot more things. She has a lot more strength.”

Certainly the chiseled frame of Budd is cause for concern for Estes after her last outing. Estes was overpowered by former Olympic wrestler Randi Miller at the promotion’s inaugural event last April.

“She was able to wear me down,” explained Estes of the third-round TKO defeat. “She went back to her wrestling skills during the fight.”

Not everything about the Miller fight was bad for Estes. In a bit of irony, she repeatedly found success from inside the Muay Thai clinch.

“Prior to that fight, I wasn’t taking Muay Thai classes,” revealed the fighter. “That’s where I’ve made the biggest strides over the last year.”

Since the loss to Miller, Estes hasn’t been in the cage. Yet, there’s a justifiable reason for that.

“It’s one of those age things where I’m a mom and I have a busy life,” she said. “I got busy with my janitorial company and my two boys. That’s really the only reason. I still went to jiu-jitsu and practice, I just haven’t competed.”

With just two professional fights under her belt, Estes will be taking a step up in competition when she faces Budd. The Canadian’s 4-2 record is deceiving after a career in kickboxing.

“I’d like to just swing away at her,” Estes stated confidently. “It seems like when everything is under control, she’s fairly calm. But whenever things get out of control, she loses her cool. I want to get in her face.”

Estes’ base primarily lies in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but her grappling background doesn’t dominate her strategy against Budd come Friday night.

“In her last couple of fights, her opponents tried taking her to the ground and she reversed them,” said Estes. “I’m ready to stand up or go to the ground. She’s going to be a strong opponent.”

Estes (L) battles for position (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

One thing that may aid Estes in her search for an upset is fighting in her own backyard. However, she’d be just as content fighting out of town.

“For me personally, I don’t know if it’s an advantage,” Estes claimed. “For some fighters it might be. I’ve actually faced opponents that want to be the villain. It’s all about personality.

“I love fighting out of town. I get to fly out, have my hotel room, be isolated. Helps me focus on the fight. Here in Kansas City, I have more distractions.”

Distractions or not, Estes has her hands full with the more experienced Budd. And with both fighters owning numerous first-round finishes, there’s a potential for fireworks.

“Of course when you visualize a fight, it always ends early,” said Estes with a laugh. “She’s known for conditioning and being in shape, but people who carry really low body fat sometimes have problems gassing early. She has a lot more muscle to maintain.

“In reality, I think this will go a few rounds. You have to decide if you want to come out and go for a Hail Mary or pace yourself.”

Regardless of the outcome on Friday night, Estes is relishing the moment. And don’t be surprised if the longtime competitor comes out swinging for the fences when the bell rings.

Mollie would like to thank Steve Crawford with American Jiu-Jitsu, Bryan Carroll with Low Kick Camp, her sponsors: 68 Inside Sports, and Fight Chix. Follow Estes on Twitter: @missmollie_mma

Top Photo: Mollie Estes (L) delivers a knee (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)