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Bonus Watch! Potential award winners this weekend for TUF 20 Finale, UFC on FOX 13

UFC has pulled out all the stops this weekend with two events in back-to-back nights live from Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoenix, Arizona, respectively. On Friday night, (Dec. 12, 2014) UFC will crown its first-ever women's strawweight champion at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 20 finale. On Saturday, (Dec. 13, 2014) UFC brings the action back to FOX for a stellar card featuring big names and exciting fights. Before the action gets underway, MMAmania took a gander at what fighters have the potential to haul in one or more of promotion's $50k performance-based bonuses this weekend.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans want finishes, and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to deliver the goods. With every UFC event, ZUFFA and Co. hand out $50,000 in bonuses for two "Performance of the Night" winners as well as the "Fight of the Night."

With two events in successive nights this weekend, bonuses will be handed out aplenty as the finishes hopefully pile up.

The first event of the stacked UFC weekend goes down tonight (Fri., Dec. 12, 2014), as Las Vegas plays host to the crowning of the inaugural UFC strawweight champion. On Saturday night (Dec. 13), UFC makes its first-ever trip to Phoenix, Arizona, for an exceptionally stacked UFC on FOX 13 card that features a handful of fights that could provide new No. 1 contenders.

In the main event of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 Finale, a title will be on the line for the first time ever as Rose Namajunas will take on Carla Esparza in order to be deemed the inaugural UFC women's strawweight champion.

In the main event of UFC on FOX 13, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos will make his highly-anticipated return to the Octagon to take on No. 4-ranked Stipe Miocic. With the heavyweight division nearly barren of contenders, either man could earn a UFC title shot with a big performance.

We took a peek at both UFC events this weekend, selecting a few fighters who may leave with a bonus check in their pockets after stunning performances:

TUF 20 Finale

Fight of The Night: KJ Noons vs. Daron Cruickshank

With Daron Cruickshank's jaw-dropping highlight reel you would expect "The Detroit Superstar" to have at least accrued one performance bonus in his UFC career thus far. Unfortunately for Cruickshank, you would be wrong, as he had two potential bonuses snatched from right beneath his feet.

As a result, UFC gave the TUF veteran a huge opportunity at another bonus with an exceptional match up against KJ Noons. The former Strikeforce product is actually coming off his first-ever UFC bonus, as he knocked out Sam Stout this past April in violent fashion.

With Noons privy to stand-and-bang with the dangerous striker in Cruickshank, fans can expect to see an all-out brawl for three rounds. If all goes as planned, this fight will be hard to top when all is said and done.

Performance Bonuses:

Jeremy Stephens or Charles Oliveira

If you are betting on who will win the performance bonuses this weekend, there is almost nothing as sure-fire as the co-main event of TUF 20 finale.

Jeremy Stephens comes into his 20th UFC fight with five career UFC bonuses, and there is a strong possibility he picks up his sixth (and second in a row) later tonight. With 15 (technical) knockouts to his credit, "Lil' Heathen" could be putting Oliveira to sleep in devastating fashion.

Oliveira, on the other hand, comes into his 12th UFC bout with seven bonuses to his credit. Almost unbelievably, Oliveira has earned a UFC bonus in more fights than he hasn't! In fact, Oliveira won a performance bonus his last three outings, so why would anything change in Phoenix?

I expect this fight to go one of two ways: 1) Stephens via KO or 2) Oliveira via submission.

Regardless, one of these men will probably leave Vegas with an extra $50k in their pocket.

Rose Namajunas

They don't call her "Thug Rose" for nothing.

My pick to become the inaugural UFC strawweight champion won't ride her way to glory via decision. That simply is not the way of Rose Namajunas.

Although former Invicta strawweight champion Carla Esparza is a dangerous opponent, Namajunas' striking is on another level, and she is getting exponentially better with each passing day.

Rose finished all three of her opponents inside the TUF house via submission, and you can expect to see her finishing Esparza en route to the UFC title and a performance bonus later tonight.

UFC on FOX 13

Fight of The Night: Claudia Gadelha vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk

One night after the inaugural UFC women's strawweight champion is crowned, the division may have its first-ever No. 1 contender.

Although Claudia Gadelha was unable to participate in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 20, the former No. 1 Invicta contender was able to get an early start to her UFC career, as she thoroughly dominated Tina Lähdemäki en route to a unanimous decision victory this past July.

After an incredible outing that saw Gadelha show off her wide range of skills, the undefeated Brazilian cemented herself as one of the early contenders in UFC's latest division.

Joanna Jędrzejczyk may have come into UFC as a relatively unknown fighter, but the Polish Muay Thai world champion quickly proved to be a force after a dominant debut over Juliana Lima this past July. Jędrzejczyk put together some of the most savvy and crisp combinations we have ever seen in WMMA in her UFC debut, and there is no reason to believe her second outing won't be much of the same.

With so much on the line for both women, and the opportunity to stake their claim as the No. 1 contender, this bout has "Fight of the Night" written all over it.

Performance of The Night:

Junior dos Santos

Well, duh.

The former UFC heavyweight champion is not in an easy spot coming into UFC on FOX 13, but if "Cigano" ever wants a fourth crack at Cain Velasquez, he better put Stipe Miocic away on Saturday night.

In 16 career victories, Dos Santos has finished his opponents 14 times, including 12 (technical) knockouts. In his UFC career, "Cigano" has knocked out seven opponents (not including his verbal submission victory over Mirko Cro Cop), including violent finishes over heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and interim champion Fabricio Werdum.

With Dos Santos needing a statement victory this Saturday, you can bet he will be looking to garner his fifth career UFC bonus check.

Ben Saunders

If you are not a Ben Saunders fan, than you are not a fan of classic MMA violence.

If you want a sure-fire exciting fight, all you have to do is match up Saunders with literally anyone and he will deliver. After leaving UFC in favor of Bellator for two years, Saunders continued to put on outstanding fights in the No. 2-ranked MMA promotion before making his rousing return to the Octagon this past August.

Taking on promotional newcomer Chris Heatherly, Saunders pulled off one of the rarest submission in MMA history as he became the first fighter to ever finish someone via omoplata inside the Octagon.

The sensational finish earned Saunders his first-ever UFC bonus (which is absolutely criminal when you consider the hellacious beatdown he put on Brandon Wolff and Marcus Davis back in 2008-2009), and you can expect "Killa B" to be searching for another $50k when he takes on fellow UFC/Bellator veteran Joe "Diesel" Riggs.

That's a wrap!

Whether I accurately predict the performance bonuses this weekend, UFC has truly put together two exceptional events worth your time. For more information on the TUF 20 Finale, click here. For UFC on FOX 13, click here.

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