Missouri’s own Mollie Estes, returns to the Invicta cage for the first time since Invicta FC 1, on April 5th when she squares off against Invicta newcomer, Veronica Rothenhausler.

Fighting in the 145lb division, former professional rugby player Estes, wants to welcome Rothenhausler to Missouri in a rude fashion. In front of what will surely be a hometown crown, Estes will tangle with Rothenhausler on April 5th, at Invicta FC 5.

Corey Smith: I understand Jiu-Jitsu is what initially drew you into mixed martial arts. How did that come about?

Mollie Estes: Actually I drove by it. There was a sign that said “ju jitsu” off of a busy street. I pulled in the parking lot and wrote down their info off of the window, Googled it and thought, hmmm, sounds like fun.

ME: I had just “retired” (as ruggers call it) from an 8 year rugby career with the Kansas City Jazz WRC. I was trying to figure out what non-team sport I could participate in to stay in shape. That was in September of 2008 and I have been hooked since

CS:  After Jiu-Jitsu, you moved into training Muay Thai. Which art do you feel fits you more naturally?

ME: In high school they called me the “Mahler” which was actually my first initial and maiden name (Ahlers), but it fit my prototype. I was aggressive, not graceful. I started Muay Thai training to find the graceful bird inside of me! Needless to say I enjoy grappling above head kicks, but soaking it all in and being able to filter what I think I can use to my advantage is key.

CS: Along with MMA, you used to play rugby. Which sport is tougher?

ME: When we would recruit new rugby players our first comment to them would always be, “You are going to get hurt.” I played 15 on 15, which means 80 minutes of tackling, getting up, getting tackled, stepped on, and getting up again.

ME: We played every Saturday during the season and I have witnessed on the field broken femurs, compound fractures, always a broken nose, dislocated shoulders, cracked ribs… I could go on. In MMA one trains for a few weeks for one fight which could last 1 minute or 15 minutes. Damage is sure to occur in either sport, but exposure is far less with MMA. The level of fitness is comparable as well.

CS:  You went 7-1 over your Amateur career. What were the best lessons that you learned from those fights?

ME: Going into my first fight I had never really punched someone. I remember thinking how surreal it was. I was about to step into a cage, hurt this girl, and I wasn’t going to be in the least amount of trouble for it (no fouls!). I was so excited!

ME: People always ask me if I am scared before a fight. I explain to them, “I am not stepping into a cage with a 250 pound man with a knife, so no, I am not scared.”

ME: Other lessons learned: When one wins a fight swiftly he or she hasn’t been put to the test. But when the fighter is put to the test and triumphs does the win feel earned.

ME: My first 5 round fight as an ammy, that lasted 4 of the 5 rounds, was the first time I remember feeling truly exhilarated. It was against Marciea Allen in Watertown, SD.

ME: My first lost: 2010 In Las Vegas Tuff N Uff. I learned that the little fighters can be fast as hell! TJ Cunanan buzzed me with a right and to be honest I have no memory of that fight. I don’t think she had to cut to make our fight weight of 135 and I think I was back at 150 the next day after weigh ins. I learned a lot more about nutrition and diet after that fight. Shout out to my nutritionist Ethan Benda at!

CS:  You were a part of the inaugural Invicta card last year. What was it like to be on the first card for a promotion like Invicta?

ME: Dreamy! When Janet Martin speaks, people listen. I wanted to shout to everyone every day, “Do you realize how historical this is?” “How could you NOT have tickets yet!?” I was thankful that they chose Kansas City and I felt truly blessed.

ME: Who has had Don House wrap their hands? Me! I really feel like I would have said yes to fight anyone, luckily they are fair matchmakers, ha!

CS: You live just outside Kansas City, how many friends and family showed up for that fight?

ME: My fight family is large. I knew a lot of people there that night. I probably had at least 200 friends there. I had some family there too, but to be honest they prefer to hear about it later. It is still tough for many of them to watch in person. Even some of my friends admitted that they kept their eyes closed most of the fight. I am ok with that because they were there to support me.

ME: They would have not been there for any other reason.

ME: I am uniquely excited for the diehard fans that flew across the country to be there. The type of fans that purchase UFC tickets and know every single fact about MMA are the ones that I get excited to see because they will be back time and time again whether I am fighting or not.

CS: What do you think Invicta means for the sport of women’s mixed martial arts?

ME:  I always had this gut feeling that when no one is around Shannon (Knapp) and Dana (White) speak alien to each other. An android type of clicking with pops and whistles. I do not know what type of relationship they have but Dana’s strategic comments defacing women in the UFC, then Shannon’s rising from the ashes, now 10 UFC WOMEN signed up. Those two are beings from a higher thinking planet if you were to ask me.

ME: Either that or they are the type to put it all on RED at the casinos and have the money to risk it. I am just enjoying the view from the sidelines.

CS: Before your bout last year against Randi Miller, you began to train in wrestling for the first time. Most of your wrestling training occurred at HDMMA, a gym in Kansas City, operated by longtime MMA veterans Jason High and LC Davis How far has your wrestling progressed? What type of support do most female competitors receive from their male counterparts?

ME:  I did train a lot with LC Davis, Jason High, and the HD MMA crew before my last fight. I had my first ever wrestling practice there at the age of 36 J. I have to be honest, the most I have learned since then has been through my two boys’ (ages 8 and 9) wrestling meets. They both won state at their rookie state championships this year.

ME: I have had great support from my male counterparts, although I have heard stories of negative things like a guy showing off because he outweighs his sparring partner (a female) by 50 pounds and ends up hurting her.

ME: I haven’t witnessed this, but I have had female fighters reach out to me since I am somewhat of a role model and confess some issues they face. I feel that I have managed to avoid this scrutiny partially because I am one of the larger female fighters. There are a lot of guys my size in the gym that I am able to go all out with and neither one of us will injure the other.

ME: Training with Jason High and LC Davis was like this. The only bruises that I received from LC was from his elbows on the top of my foot, but that is because I was trying to liver kick him!

ME: What I told a friend the other day was this, “You know when you become a fighter and are no longer just a “girl” at the gym. It’s when they kick and elbow you in the chest because they have forgotten that you have boobs.”

CS: Your  original opponent at Invicta FC 5 on April 5th, Veronica Rothenhausler sustained an injury in training. After a few other injuries left Julia Budd without an opponent, you have agreed to step into the cage with her. What were your thoughts on accepting the change in opponent so close to the fight?

ME: I’m blessed with such a great opportunity! Win or lose, it’s a win-win for me. I plan to do my best. Wish me luck!

CS: Inside the cage, what type of instruction do you like to receive from your coaches?

ME: Do you ever work out to the Bas Ruten audio CD’s? He shouts out what you do next and you just follow it. I love it when my corner does that. It’s helped so many times and is almost an instinctive process.

ME: What I mean by that is one fight Sarah Schneider was my corner. She has a soft voice and after I won in the 2nd round by a standing guillotine, I remember her coming out celebrating my win and saying, “You did great! You did everything I said!” I didn’t tell her that I didn’t hear a word she said.

CS: What is your mood on fight night? Do you have any superstitions or routines that you have to perform?

ME:  I don’t eat any food less than 4 hours before my event. I like my hair braided the same day that I fight. I never shave my legs on fight day, although I do shave the night before. I like to nap and relax the day of my fight. Nothing exciting.

ME: If my corner is super nervous I like to play jokes. One time I hid my mouthpiece and as we were about to come out I asked, “where’s my mouth piece!?” No one could find it, then I pulled it out, “Oh, there it is!” and just started laughing at their pale faces.

CS: Outside of the gym, what types of activities do you enjoy for fun? What helps you recharge from a long day of training camp?

ME:  I am a work-a-holic. I have a commercial janitorial company that I have owned and operated for 12 years ( I also have a tattoo shop located at 1005 Westport Rd., KC, MO 64111 (Timeless Tattoo KC on FB). If I am not working on that I love spending time with my boys at Lake Lotawana, MO.

CS: Lastly, MMA is as much a team sport as it is an individual one. Who would you like to thank?

ME: I am so very thankful for my dojo, Steve Crawford’s American Ju Jitsu and happy that their new home has moved into my 2nd home which is 68 Inside Sports, Overland Park, KS.

ME:  Also thankful for trainers and training partners: Damiyahn Smith, Sarah Schneider, mit and cardio specialist Austen Ford, Muay Thai trainer Bryan Carroll, kickboxing instructor Mr. Dwane F. Lewis Jr., my friends at Brian Davidson’s Grindhouse, my Pink Ponies, nutritionist Ethan Benda, my chiropractor Dr Mladenoff and founder of I’ll stop there, but there is always more.